Sunday, August 21, 2011

So you like Red Delicious

Do you love Red Delicious? This popular variety is available in supermarkets year round

But, is it really the best? With so many other varieties, are you sure that there isn't one you haven't tried that you would like even more?

Probably, you know what you don't like: apples too tart or bold or hard or weird, mealy apples, apples you'd regret eating. A shame, though, to let fear of bad apples keep you from exploring this wonderful fruit.

May I help?

I've picked out a few varieties I think you might like, maybe even love. They have some of the best qualities of Red Delicious and a few admirable ones of their own.

Most of these apples aren't available in supermarkets all year. In season, however, they are wonderfully fresh, crisp, and juicy--and very close to the Delicious comfort zone.

Towards the end of August, light crisp Gingergold offers a simple fresh summer treat. Gingergold is not really much like Red Delicious, but it offers some of the same easy rewards.

On the other hand, Mollie's Delicious, available starting in late August, might be Delicious's close cousin (though despite the name it is no relation). It keeps promises that the Red One makes and, sadly, often fails to deliver.

Mollie's is a mild, sweet, crisp apple with great texture, lots of juice, and even flavors.

In September, look for Dayton, a pretty red apple apple with a hint of sweet cider and blossoms. Also that month and into October, try light Mutsu (they are huge, but easy to eat), and the ever-popular Honeycrisp. You may just find a new favorite.

One thing I should like to introduce to all my Red Delicious–eating friends: the authentic vinous flavors of real New England apples.

Perhaps McIntosh and Macoun are too much for you, but I urge you to try, say, a Spartan in September or an Empire in October or later. (Empire keeps very well and is usually for sale through May in the Northeast.)

These are wonderful varieties, crisp and sweet but with hints of the berries and wine that mark their McIntosh parent. Empire is also half Red Delicious, so you should feel right at home.

Some general seasonal advice is in order. Any variety will be tart if picked too young. Avoid this by patiently spurning the early harvest. No September Empires or early Gingergolds, for instance!

Late in the season, if the above varieties have whet your appetite, you might try Enterprise, a bit farther from the Red Delicious gravitational field but still mild and pleasant and a quite attractive red.

Of the supermarket apples available in the off-season, besides Red Delicious's ubiquitous self, consider juicy Fuji and Red D's own offspring, Sonya.

Ambrosia, sold in the winter in North America, also has some delicate qualities that, I think, a Red Delicious aficionado would particularly enjoy.

I hope this gives you the confidence to broaden your horizons this year! I've really tried to select varieties you would like, but of course the final word is yours. Let me know how it goes.


  1. Hi Adam,

    I came across a variety new to me this past week at our grocery store. It was a "Tentation" apple. It is also known as the Delblush as it is a Golden Del. X Blushing Golden cross. It was a pretty blushed yellow apple and very crisp. The taste was sweet, not overly sweet for my palate. I didn't taste any other flavors in the apple. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has tried these yet?

  2. Matt, those sound like promising bloodlines. (But, no flavors other than sweet?) I'd also be interested to learn more.

  3. Growing up in apple country, I've always been a Red Delicious fan, from working in the orchards 40 years ago to buy fresh apples at a roadside stand yesterday. Just finished one, as a matter of fact. Our county has gone from growing 3-4 varieties in the 1970's to about 50 today... but for me so many of the new varieties are either too sweet (Americans love those, of course...) or too tart. For me Red Delicious hits that nice, crispy spot in the middle. It's great that there are so many varieties to choose from now, but I think this is still a tasty apple. Maybe the ones people don't like have been picked too early and shipped to stores unripe. I don't know...

    1. Thanks, Michael! I am not trying to talk anyone out of their favorite apple, just broaden the playing field as I do for other varieties in my "You may also like" series.

  4. This post sounds friendly but it seems like everyone else just thinks people like me, who like Red Delicious, should be ashamed of what they enjoy. I tried many apples but I never had an apple as juicy as the Red Delicious I used to order from one particular farm. It was heaven. Unfortunately, they closed down and now I can't find an apple like that :( They are one of the most expensive apples here and usually I'm disappointed when I buy them in a supermarket. Idk if they store them in bad conditions or what but it actually makes me kinda sad. I wish I could get my hands on those apples again.

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Nat! It's almost trendy to hate on this apple.

      I am not a huge fan of Delicious but that is not me! I am rather motivated by the idea that variety is good and people should try new things.

      I hope you get to sample some of these suggestions. Depending on where you live, Empire might be a good one to try this time of year.


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