By: Amy Grant
You haven’t seen them at the grocers, but apple growing devotees have no doubt heard of apples with red flesh. A relative newcomer, red-fleshed apple varieties are still in the process of being finessed. However, there are quite a number of red-fleshed apple trees available to the home fruit grower. Read on to learn more.
About Red Fleshed Apple Trees
Apples with red flesh inside (as well as out) occur naturally in some regions of Central Asia — basically crabapples. These tend to be too bitter tasting for consumption, so breeders decided to cross them with scrumptious, sweet white-fleshed apples to produce commercially viable apples with red flesh inside. The creation of sweet tasting red-fleshed apple trees is not only a novelty to grow, but these red-fleshed fruits may have antioxidant properties as well.
This breeding effort to bring tasty, salable red-fleshed fruit began about 20 years ago and, as mentioned, has yet to make it into the produce aisle. However, in Europe, commercial releases of red-fleshed apple varieties have occurred. As of 2010, a Swiss breeder, Marcus Kobelt, brought the ‘Redlove’ series of apples to the European market.
Red Fleshed Apple Varieties
The actual flesh color of these apples ranges from bright pink (Pink Pearl) to brilliant red (Clifford) to pink tinged (Taunton Cross) and even orange (Apricot Apple). These red-fleshed varieties also have different colored blooms rather than the white of other apple trees. Depending upon the cultivar, you may have light pink to crimson pink blossoms on your red-fleshed apple tree. Some varieties are sweet while others are on the tarter side, as with other apples.
As with apples in general, the list of red-fleshed apple tree varieties is huge even though they are relatively new to the market. A very abbreviated list of cultivars follows, but be advised that there are many others to ponder when choosing for your landscape. You will want to take into account not only the color and flavor of the fruit, but your regional microclimate and the storage potential of the fruit as well.
Varieties of red-fleshed apples include but are not limited to:
- Pink Pearl
- Pink Sparkle
- Geneva Crab
- Giant Russian
- Winter Red Flesh
- Mountain Rose
- Red Wonder
- Hidden Rose
- Mott’s Pink
- Buford Red Flesh
- Scarlett Surprise
Do a little looking at catalogs on the Internet and research all the other varieties before deciding upon a suitable red-fleshed type for you.
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Airlie Red Flesh apple
Airlie Red Flesh is one of the best-flavored and latest-ripening red-fleshed apples, also known as Hidden Rose®.
The variety was first discovered in the 1960s growing as a seedling tree on land owned by Lucky and Audrey Newell near Airlie in Oregon (between Corvallis and Independence). They sent samples to Oregon State University, but the tree remained unknown to the wider world, and they eventually sold the property and moved away.
Nothing further happened until the 1980s when Louis Kimzey, the retired manager of a neighboring farm business, Thomas Paine Farms, re-discovered the tree. At the time Kimzey thought the tree was probably Pink Pearl, a well-known red-fleshed apple, but he showed local fruit expert Bill Schultz of Philomath, Oregon , and after a few seasons Bill felt confident this was a new variety.
Bill named the new variety Airlie Red Flesh, but this soon became corrupted to Aerlies Red Flesh.
During the 1990s some local nurseries started to propagate the variety, and for a time it was sometimes known as Schwartz Apple. Eventually Louis Kimzey asked Thomas Paine farms to help commercialize the new variety, and a new name was adopted - Hidden Rose. This name was trademarked in 2001 and henceforward the variety was marketed as Hidden Rose®, with an official cultivar name Newell-Kimzey.
For more details of this interesting red-fleshed variety, see Nigel Deacon's website .
Say hello to the Redlove apple
There’s a new apple in the Aussie backyard. With their firm crimson skin and unique red flesh, these “revolutionary” beauties from Switzerland have already taken root across Europe, the UK and North America. And now, in 2017, they’re available for the first time throughout Australia.
Redlove apples on the tree. Photo used with permission from Lenswood Co-op.
Redloves are a relatively new series of hybrids, descended from a wild red-fleshed apple native to Kazakhstan. But fruit breeder Markus Kobelt, of Swiss nursery, Lubera, found these apples too sour to enjoy on their own, and set out on a 20-year journey of experimental cross-breeding to create
“the first good-tasting, red-fleshed apple”
That said, Lubera only consider the Redloves apples on the outside. The bright pink flesh, curious internal markings and unusual flavour suggest these might be “ a new type of fruit just as distinguishable from the apple as nectarines and peaches”.
What’s inside certainly counts. Redloves are said to boast an abundance of anthocyanin and around 30% more antioxidants than the average apple. What’s more, they don’t turn brown when cut (probably due to all those antioxidants) and retain their colour when cooked. This makes them the perfect apple for those dressed-to-impress desserts.
Red on the outside, red on the inside. Photo used with permission from Redlove Apple Australia.
Redlove apples stay red when cooked. Photo used with permission from Redlove Apple Australia.
Redlove serving suggestions. Photo used with permission from Redlove Apple Australia.
Wow – a rich Redlove cocktail. Photo used with permission from Redlove Apple Australia.
WA’s Redlove supply is cultivated at Domus Nursery , a little wholesaler up in the Perth hills. They say their biggest challenge was in dealing with how vigorously their plants performed over the growing season. Where new plant releases tend to hit the eastern states first, Domus’ stock was ready for sale a month ahead of schedule. This meant an early February release in WA, earning Redloves the unofficial nickname of “the Valentine apple”.
Behind the scenes: Budded wood, ready to grow. Photo used with permission from Domus Nursery.
Domus’ success with this species in WA bodes well for other regions of the country. They expect gardeners in the tropical zones (Broome, Darwin, FNQ, etc.) will struggle, but planted in full sun with a regular water supply, Redloves should do just fine in areas further south and away from the coast. Domus’ main recommendation for home gardeners is to protect the plants from winds to prevent excessive transpiration.
On the growing front, these plants are scab-resistant with minimal pest- and disease-related issues. Redloves are a dwarf species, reaching only 2-3m in height, making them suitable for pots, balcony gardens and espalier. If potting, use an Australian premium standard potting mix plus a slow-release fertiliser in Spring. Domus recommend also pruning the growing tip to encourage branching.
Redlove flowers and foliage. Photo used with permission from Domus Nursery.
Intense pink flowers on the Redlove apple. Photo used with permission from Redlove Apple Australia.
|Bloom Color||Pink, White|
|Bloom Time||Early - Mid|
|Chill Hours||800 - 1200|
|Soil Moisture||Well Drained|
|Soil pH Level||5.5 - 7.5|
|Taste||Sweet And Juicy|
|Years to Bear||1 - 2|
|Zone Range||4 - 8|
The Pollination Issue
Even if you do decide to use the staggered approach, you still must plant two or more varieties that bloom at the same time in each apple planting. Why? Well, don't forget "the birds and the bees." Yes, we're talking about sex: pollination.
Most apples aren't keen on incest, requiring trees of a different apple variety for pollination (even with the exceptions, pollination is still superior when it comes from another variety). Apples don't look down their noses at crabapples, as if the latter somehow weren't "real" apples. No, apples are sometimes quite willing to be pollinated by their ornamental cousins. This fact gives you more leeway in terms of plant choices.
A couple of warnings, though, before leaving the issue of pollination:
- The pollen of some apple varieties is sterile, so don't rely on these as your pollinators. Examples are Jonagold, Mutsu, Stayman, and Winesap.
- The transfer of pollen from one apple blossom to another is largely the work of bees. So be careful not to apply insecticides during the blooming period, or else you'll kill the bees and lose your best means of pollination.
Scarlet Surprise apple
This is an American variety, also known as Bill's Redflesh and Firecracker, and one of the most extreme examples of a red-fleshed apple variety. The red tendency dominates this apple, with not only the skin and flesh but also the leaves, wood, and blossoms all having a very pronounced red stain to them.
The apples are fairly small, round-conical and often slightly elongated in shape, usually about two inches in diameter, and two and a quarter inches deep. The stalk is of medium length, fairly thick, in a shallow cavity, projecting beyond the base. The skin is wholly red and smooth, sometimes with pale dots (lenticels). The flesh is deep pink to red, soft, and tender the juice is sweet and tart. The eye is closed and there is little or no cavity. The appearance is very similar to Almata (also American) and Huonville Crab (Australian). There are apples in most years, though there is some tendency to be biennial.
This apple is more acidic than most dessert varieties, having an intense sharp brisk flavour. It keeps in good condition for about a week. After this time the acidity declines and the apple begins to shrink slightly. After a fortnight the acidity is less pronounced, the taste is sweeter and the texture rather soft and doughy.
The tree is slender and partial tip-bearing. The blossom is wholly red, new leaves are bronze-coloured, and the wood is red-stained. The flowering period is extremely early about 20 days earlier than Bramley. It is one of the first apple trees in the orchard to flower. It is a very poor pollinator. The tree grows rapidly and vigorously.
We are grateful to Nigel Deacon, an English apple enthusiast with a particular interest in red-fleshed apple varieties, for samples and background of this apple variety. There are details of many more red-fleshed apples on his website and he can supply / exchange seeds and scionwood - see Diversity website.