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Pink Lady (Cripps Pink) *

One of my favorites of the industrial apples that are available in the off-season, Pink Lady is named for her distinctive orange-fuchsia blush, which covers an otherwise green yellow. 

Light lenticels correspond with minor dimples in the surface of the fruit, which runs medium to large and has a soft sweet smell of pear, melon, and cider. The apple feels firm.

Pink Lady's flesh is on the coarse side of dense and a creamy light yellow, crisp (though not breaking) and juicy. Her flavor is sweet with some tartness and offers distinct cantaloupe and honeydew notes, with a hint of orange juice.

This variety has real character but with enough sweetness to put it in the range of popular taste.

"Pink Lady" is actually a brand name; Cripps Pink is the true name for this variety, a cross of Golden Delicious and Lady Williams originating in Western Australia.

Pink Lady is licensed and, in theory, quality controlled in ways that "ordinary" Crippses are not (though Cripps is patented). In practice (and in violation of the license) they are all marketed as Pink Ladies, at least around here, because that is how they are known.

By these standards my fruit is no Lady, but recognizably the same fruit, perhaps a bit smaller. Cripps Pink is a fine name (and one that honors its breeder, John Cripps), but I'm using the name everyone knows. Sue me.

In Britain, Pink Lady is apparently marketed to women.


  1. FYI, the Plant Patent for Cripp's Pink expires October of 2010.

    Cripp's Pink also has the unusual habit of easily sprouting seeds inside the core. To start your own seedling apple tree, find a Pink Lady apple that's been there a while (the skin will wrinkle when squeezed). Carefully open the core and most likely one or more of the seeds will already have a well-developed root starting. Plant this 1/4" deep and it will grow rapidly. But alas, it won't bear fruit for years and the apples from it won't be anything like the Pink Lady it came from and will most likely be terrible. But you can graft a good variety to this and have a large, long-lived apple tree.

    I've grown to like one of the parents of Cripp's Pink, Lady Williams; it has a dense, sugary sweet-tart flesh and is red with a characteristic verticle white stripe on one side of the apple. It ripens mid-February here in Southern California, which means it is probably much too late an apple to ripen in northern locations.

  2. How hardy are Cripps Pink apple trees?

  3. Re the "hardiness" of Cripps: These are warm-climate apples that won't even ripen reliably in Zone 5 or colder, so winter hardiness is more of a theoretical concern than anything else. As for other dimensions of hardy, I'm just not sure.

    I am an eater not a grower, so you should probably consult with a nursery or local agricultural extension service. Or ask Kevin Hauser, in the above comments. (I'm flattered that you ask, though!)

  4. It has been a long time since I had one of these, so I bought a few yesterday. The apples are large and the flesh is dense. The peel is on the thick side also and I found them difficult to bite into. The flavor is sweet with a little tart and a nice amount of juice. The flavor is light with something of a light melon or tropical flavor but it is very faint if at all. I am not a fan of these simply because of the dense flesh of them making it harder to enjoy for me personally. Still better than a Red Delish!

    1. Matt, what apples do you like in the off-season?

      I ask because although Pink Lady is dense, she is not as hard as many of the durable year-round apples for sale this time of year.

      Hardness, like almost everything else, seems to vary depending on storage and handling conditions, but generally I think of Pink Lady as having a little give in her bite compared to most of the other supermarket varieties.

      So do you eat apples this time of year and of so what?

  5. I agree that it could just be that the Cripps I got were more dense than usual. Here in Wisconsin I like Melrose for cooking and Honeycrisp for eating through January. February starts the grocery store apples and among them I do no like Honeycrisp since I am spoiled with fresh off the tree H.C's. I pass over the Granny Smith (too tart), the Red Delish (no explanation needed) and the Golden Delish (bland). We have Red Delish off the tree here and they aren't much better. We also get Honeygold off the tree and that spoils me when coming around to a Golden later in the stores. I am new to eating apples this time of year but my favorites the last few years have been Ida Red, Opal, Jazz this year (last year not so much), Sonya is okay, Mcintosh are nice (I get tired of firm sweet apples all the time too) and Fuji. Lady Alice can be good (liked em better last year), didn't care much for the Junami and I would like to try a Cameo again as I remember liking them in the past. Gala's are ok too. The balanced flavor of the Pink Lady was decent but again the tooth of the apple turned me off on the samples I have.

  6. i have a pink lady apple tree from the apple but im in the uk will it ever have apples

  7. Are Pinks clearly for eating as they are? How do they hold up in cooking?

    I noticed they are very hard to peel and tough to slice. Loved the flavor, but a bit chewy.

    1. These are very good for eating out of hand and are marketed as such.

      Like so many mass-market varieties they are quite dense, though perhaps not as hard as some.

      Not everyone likes that. (For more on texture, see here.)

      I don't bake much, so I can't really evaluate these as cooking apples. It strikes me that they might make a fine-flavored apple sauce.

      If you try them in a pie or tart, let us know how they fare!

    Arthur Lindsay Williams, my great grandfather, was known and loved for his kind disposition. He always had time for people and treated them with respect. He was also a champion axman, winning 18 regional wood-chopping events in 12 years.

    Arthur, however, was less than impressed when his two-year-old son, Ronald (my grandfather), took an ax to a small apple tree next to the family home. Ronald’s mother carefully bandaged the tree, and it eventually bore apples of exceptional sweetness. Dubbed the Lady Williams apple, the new variety became a forebear of the Cripps Pink apple, one of the world’s most popular apple varieties.Read more:

  9. Are there any other apples you've tried with similar texture and flavor to pink lady? We really like pink lady, but pink lady doesn't grow very well here. So, I'm looking for a similar option with a shorter growing season, and your tasting experience is greatly appreciated.

    1. Falanu, what an interesting question to try to answer. Pink Lady, aka Cripps Pink, really has some unusual qualities.

      The only apple that comes to my mind, maybe, is Lemonade, also from New Zealand.

      But that won't help you much, since it is still restricted by license. You will not be be able to get budwood even if the apple would be appropriate for your climate.

      What exactly is it about Cripps that you find appealing? You might be able to identify climate-approprate varieties that have some of the apple's specific qualities such as texture or flavor.

      For instance, the Blue Pearmain, which grows in New England, is quite chewy and dense, though its flavor set is different from that of Pink Lady.

  10. What about your apples vs those on the typical "dirty dozen" list in which apples in general are considered the top culprit regarding the latest list for fruit and vegetable pesticide contamination (listed by EWG). What pesticides do you use and how much washing have you determined to make apples actually safe enough to eat? From the home of a 3/yo

    1. I’ve written about the Environmental Working Group’s annual “dirty dozen” list, and the apple’s ignominious place on it, several times. (1) (2)

      If you read one of those, or the original articles to which they link, you will learn that that (a) you cannot wash the pesticides away, since they are incorporated into the fruit’s flesh, and (b) nonetheless the health benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables exceed the harm of the pesticides.

      Finally, about “my” apples. I do not grow or sell apples, I only eat and write about them.

  11. Re: Pink Lady and pesticide residue. We have a juvenile orchard with 3 very large old Apple trees on the yard. The old ones are far too large for me to spray and I didn't spray the young trees last season either. The point being, insect pressure is pretty high, but the 3 apples we got from baby Cripps were clean beautiful fruit. The tree is a healthy free grower as well making it a pretty good candidate for a home grower who has room for maybe just one tree. I let it fruit last year (2nd year in the ground) and this year as I write it is covered in blossoms, so not particularly biennial either. This is perhaps more than anyone wanted to read, but Adam your ratings have been a critical part of many of my planting decisions so I had to pass along our experience with the Pink Lady. To conclude, there were a few other apples I found more delightful eating last fall but this one is darn fine and I can't say enough about the tree.

    1. Tom, what a nice note. It is gratifying to know that my blog is useful to others.

      And since I am no grower, stories and experiences form those who are only adds value to what is here.

      I wish you joy of your Cripps Pink, may yours ever bear fruit.


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