Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rubyfrost *

Today's new variety is a large apple with a deep and even red blush randomly studded with tan lenticels. The only unblushed peel, a tiny patch in the stem well, is more green than yellow

This sample is misshapen, lopsided and with a great dimple in one side (not shown). I think its ideal shape is rounded with very moderate ribbing that really only shows at the base.

I like odd shapes and this attractive apple feels very solid and sports a cidery aroma.

Rubyfrost's flesh is coarse, crisp, and very juicy, a light yellow. It breaks off in crunchy chunks.

The sweet-tart balance is very good and there are some savory flavors that I notice right away. Beyond that there is a little citric acidity that is pleasantly bracing, and a generically vinous quality.

The savory note is intriguing and I keep trying to break it down. Is there coffee?

I would not call Rubyfrost's collection of tastes the most harmonious, but I like it and the texture is great.

This apple is a new product from the Geneva, New York, breed program, one of the country's oldest, and it is cheering to see Geneva stepping up with another variety in a field lately dominated by others.

From that point of view Rubyfrost is a daring choice, an apple with some character and acidity (though still plenty sweet) in a market that seems devoted to 50 shades of Braeburn and the cult of sugar.

Not that sugar or Braeburn are far removed. Ruby's other ancestors are Braeburn (its pollen parent), Golden Delicious, and Monroe.

Speaking of marketing, old-dog Geneva has learned all the new tricks. Rubyfrost is a club apple, in this case limited to royalty-paying New York–state growers.

Rubyfrost is trademarked, so when the apple's patent expires the growers cartel will still control the brand. Meanwhile its actual cultivar name, "New York 2," seems so coldly utilitarian as to discourage use, making the trademark even more persistent and valuable.

I'm grateful to a New York reader who sent me this and several other apples, since Rubyfrost is only grown in the Empire State (that darned cartel again) and is not widely available elsewhere.

According to the patent, Rubyfrost is both winter hardy and an exceptional keeper.


  1. Some of these showed up at my grocery store in Southern California today. Aggressively crunchy, plenty sweet, acidic in a sort of strange way, not that aromatic. I'm tempted to say it lacks "middle notes."

  2. A batch of these showed up in my local grocery in early February, as well(Missouri). I bought one to test, and then went back and bought the last ten pounds they had. The batch here was a perfect balance of crisp, sweet, and acidic. I also tasted the savory coffee note. It wasn't aromatic, but I'm fine with that. The batch we got was definitely round and a darker "ruby" red. I made a pie with the last six apples I had, and it was the best apple pie I've ever made. They hold up well to the baking process - retaining their shape and not becoming slimy like a lot of apples.

    1. Anon & Mike: Sounds like production of this variety has reached the export phase.

      Perversely Rubyfrost is still not available here in neighboring New England, but we always seem to be last for everything.


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