Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Firecracker (Bill's Red Flesh Crab)

An oval apple with a glossy deep red peel cut to show pink flesh.
This small, crabapple-sized fruit, with its glossy deep red peel and striking pink flesh, is gorgeous. But is it good to eat?

Look in vain for lenticel dots on Firecracker's perfect crimson skin (unless you have a magnifier and keen eyes).

This apple is elongated and often with distinct ribbed "chins" at the base, like a miniature Red Delicious.

The pink flesh, tart and moderately bitter, is firm and crunchy but granular.

There is a bit of cherry and grapefruit, and something nutty, before acidity and tannic bitterness assert themselves and carry all before them.

Some black pepper arises in the mix by the end of the chew. It has a kick!

Despite those interesting flavors, Firecracker is really not an eating apple. Whether it has virtues in cider or cooking I cannot say. (It would certainly make a colorful tipple.)

Small elongated red apple

I had Firecracker two years ago, but this is the better sample.

Recently, I have become persuaded that Firecracker is also called Bill's Red Flesh Crab.

That would explain why some say this apple is the same as the quite different Scarlett Surprise, whose original name is the deceptively similar Bill's Red Flesh (sans "crab").

Firecracker is a seedling apple that may be related to Surprise, another red-flesh variety.



  1. A lot of red fleshed crabs are coming out of the woodwork now. I keep hearing about seedlings someone found. I have a new one ripening this year that someone sent me. I think most of them are pretty crabby, probably good in juice mixes, cider and cooking/preserving. More exciting, I have a wickson x Rubaiyat seedling cross that has pink mottled flesh ripeing soon. Initial nibbles indicate it's somewhat promising. I don't think we are going to get red fleshed dessert crabs unless we make them on purpose using dessert apple parents in the mix. Fortunately, we have the likes of Wickson and Chestnut to throw in the mix, some of the best dessert apples around, large or small.

    1. I fear the holy grail for the industry is probably something like a pink Honeycrisp.


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