Monday, October 14, 2013

Pink Pearl

What a distinctive, unusual apple! I'm posting even though my sample is a bit past prime.

The Pink Pearl's signature pink flesh, marbled with white, is front and center in my first photograph.

Yet even before we look inside, the Pearl is an unusual and handsome fruit, tan yellow largely covered by a glossy pale orange-pink blush.

In this backdrop the many large lenticels resemble nothing other than holes in the blush. Some of the lenticels have dark russet spots.

My sample has a classic conical shape, a large  medium-sized apple, prominently ribbed.

Pink Pearl's calyx is partly open, and despite being off the tree for two weeks she feels reasonably firm in hand with just a little give.

Nonetheless that marvelous pink flesh shows its age with a noticeable lean towards mealy, though it is still firm and eatable. There is a distinct grapefruit aroma.

The flavors are on the tart side with grapefruit notes (initially grapefruit peel) and also some B-vitamins savor in the second half of the chew. There is also a little watermelon.

In short, unusual tastes accompany the unusual appearance.

The Pink Pearl is one of Albert Etter's marvelous apples, bred in the 1940s. Some sources speculate that Etter's breeding palette for Pearl included the extraordinarily ribbed Calville Blanche d'Hiver.

I had heard that red-fleshed apples were not very good, often mushy, mere novelties. Pearl has a much stronger claim than that.

Incidentally, here is a catalog of many such apples curated by Leicestershire orchardist.

Pearl peaks around late August, and I tasted mine at the end of September. I must find this again in season.

Many thanks to my Santa Cruz friends for these and other apples this fall!


  1. Hocking Hills has a large collection of red fleshed apples in the U.S. Pink Pearl is probably the least intriguing red fleshed apple I've tasted of the Etter blood apples. It is more of a cooking apple to me. In general, I'd say they do have a tendency to mealiness, but at their prime some can have an awesome texture, so it is something of a myth that they are all just mushy novelties. Also, it isn't just the color of the flesh, but the flavors associated with the pigmentation. They don't just look red., they often taste red too. On the whole, they are in need of improvement, but there are commercial breeding groups and small fry like me working on it. Etter got a long way though. Sad that he didn't have more time to advance his work in this area, and that there wasn't more interest. I'm unclear why they chose pink pearl as the only one of his red fleshed apples to patent. We'll be seeing more improved blood apples in the future. Etter was ahead of his time and it seems to me that we should be building on the genetic stock he left to us.

    1. If you click on my first photo and look closely, you can make out the texture of the cut slice.

      I wouldn't call it mealy, at least not yet, but it was chewy and a little dry. Not bad considering being off the tree (at room temps) for a fortnight.

  2. I bought some Pink Pearl apples at a local market and ate my very first one today. 14% sugar (Brix checked with a refractometer), berry flavors, great texture and color within. Think I need to graft some for this part of the world!

    1. Someone is growing these here, now. The flesh color is not nearly the same, pink patches but mostly white.

      I don't know it they need a different climate or if this was just a bad year.

  3. If grown Out West where there is plenty of sunlight and cooler nights, the flesh can be hot pink. Such conditions also boost sugar levels.

    1. Yes. My tasting sample came from California.


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