Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Gala–Braeburn family

Despite the return of local apples last week, July was a month when I ate a lot of imports from the southern hemisphere.

As it turns out, many of the apples that drew me last month—16 of them—were offspring of Gala and Braeburn, two New Zealand varieties that have become supermarket staples here in the States.
(Yes, I am keeping track this year.)

Maybe you've been making similar choices. Here are mine.

Jazz, one of my favorites of the new breeds, is a Braeburn x Royal Gala cross. This means Royal Gala (a variant of Gala) pollinated Braeburn.

Envy on the other hand is a Royal Gala x Braeburn cross, with Braeburn as the pollinating parent.

Of the two, Envy is most clearly a daughter of her parents, displaying some of the best qualities of both, with a satisfying crunch.

Jazz manages to introduce some great new flavors that I've never found in Gala or Braeburn.

Jazz grows in the U.S., but not in July. These apples are imported from New Zealand or other countries south of the equator, where the spring harvest is still somewhat fresh.

Gala and Braeburn often make beautiful music together. In May I enjoyed Lemonade, another direct descendant, and Smitten, of which an unnamed Braeburn x Gala cross is the pollinator.

Of my other July apples, most were Cripps Pinks. Cripps is another New Zealand variety that is not part of the Gala-Braeburn family. It is often marketed as Pink Lady.

I'm gradually taking my leave of these apples as local fruit ripens.


  1. Jazz and Envy are both apples I look forward to and enjoy quite a bit.

    I haven't seen Smitten or Lemonade in my area, unfortunately. Maybe they will show up eventually.

    This summer, of the apples that have been available at my local chain grocery store, Cripps are the ones I've been eating. They don't seem great, but better than the Red Delicious, Braeburn, and Gala we've been getting. I keep thinking surely they'll start stocking other apples soon but so far, very limited selection. I've wondered if there is something that affected apples this year or maybe I'm just more impatient this year.

    1. Nina, don't expect to see local apples in the supermarket until the fall.

      Can you get to a farm stand, farmers market, or orchard?

      Up here the harvest has barely begun, and we've had Yellow Transparent, Early Mac, Lodi, Vista Bella, and Jersey Mac.

      Things are bound to be further along where you live, with other varieties available.

  2. Adam, getting to an orchard takes a little more time, though it's not impossible. That requires a drive of a couple of hours, to north Georgia. There is a farmer's market that's about five miles away, a good one. Atlanta's traffic imposes enough pressure that I actually consider it to be too far away these days, preferring instead to stay mostly within a couple of miles of home. That probably sounds ridiculous. And it is. So I will try to get there this weekend and see if they have a larger selection. You find some amazing apples I have never seen, like that yellow transparent, and doubt that I ever will, unless I make a trip to your part of the country.

    1. Well, it's not a moral imperative to eat these guys! I hope you can find a source without too much trouble.

      Yellow T probably does not do well in the South, but there are many fine varieties that thrive there (and not here) that I wish I could get.

  3. Earlier this week, I made a special trip to one of the larger grocery stores in my neighborhood just to get some of these delicious New Zealand apples. I spent $30.33 CDN on a mix of Jazz, Eve, Envy, and Divine apples ($2.49 per lb!). All were imported from New Zealand and most if not all have Gala and/or Braeburn somewhere in their ancestry. These apples are delicious and I am loving them, so much so that I am actually foregoing eating the ripe summer fruit that is in season in favor of these apples.

    In a few weeks time, the local apples of Quebec will be ripe and in the stores. Problem is, aside from Honeycrisp (which isn't a homegrown original but a transplanted apple grown for it's popularity), I don't really like the local apples. In terms of Quebec grown apples, our grocery stores usually only carry a mix of Macintosh, Cortland, Spartan and Empire. I find these too tart for my liking and prefer the sweeter varieties like Honeycrisp and Ambrosia. It would appear that the apple buying public veer towards the sweeter varieties as well as that Honeycrisp and Ambrosia are more expensive than the other local varieties. In fact, a few weeks ago I saw imported Honeycrisp apples retail for $4.99/lb! Obviously importation fees are factored into the pricing, but still, I've noticed that sweeter apples tend to be more expensive than the tart/sour ones.

    BTW, Adam, you have a lovely blog. :)

    1. Thank you, Anne! Honeycrisp is widely grown in Canada and I think the prices you are seeing reflect high demand. Ambrosia is still under patent and I believe only grown in one orchard.

      Local is usually freshest, but I don't think you need to limit yourself to varieties that were first bred in Quebec. One of the most popular New England apples, McIntosh, originated in Ontario.

      Since you are fond of Honeycrisp, you might also like these apples too.

  4. Mike Schmidt (mschmidt62)October 14, 2014 at 12:02 AM

    I tried an Envy this summer. I was unimpressed. I like good Braeburns better; they seem to have a stronger personality.

    1. Mike, I've never had much of a thrill from Braeburn, though I understand it varies a lot.

      Maybe they've just been stored and handled to death by the time they get to New England.

  5. We've started getting lemonade apples here in michigan which I believe is a new zealand cross of braeburn and gala and has an appearance and taste similar to golden delicious.


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