About 25 years ago I picked a Red Delicious off a tree at my university’s ag farm and bit into it, and it was actually delicious. The apples sitting in your local grocery have been stored. Red Delicious store well in the sense you can hold them a long time without visible deterioration, but their flavor disappears.
The best apples I ever had were Granny Smiths that grew in my grandmother’s Denver back yard. I never cared for just sweet red apples.
When I was a kid the only apples any chain grocery in my town sold was Red and Yellow Delicious. One of the good things about modern food marketing is that I can now find at least five varieties of apples in season, and at least four of them will have a pleasing flavor.
A Scot living in England here and I seem to remember them being ok but increasingly bland as time went by. I don’t think I’ve tasted one since the nineties though. They were shit then. And that’s from someone who enjoys a bitter/sour element.
How is it possible for a cutting grafted clone to mutate or suffer “genetic drift”? I imagine different root stocks could change taste perhaps but genes? I have some reading to do!
Yeah, red delicious, macintosh, and granny smith used to be good, but all of them got changed into terrible apples – no flavor, often bitter, and a mushy texture, but they shipped well and stored well as in you can’t tell until you bite into it if is this year’s new crop, which is usually pretty good, or if the store produce buyer bought the leftovers from last years crop, because profits.
To answer the above question about breeding when you’re not going from seed, apple trees are usually sold as a chimera of two trees: a root stock, which determines the height of the tree and disease resisstance, and grafted on fruiting wood, which has the leaves, flower buds, and fruit. Some new apple varieties are bred by cross-polinating different species, growing the seed until the sapling is of graftable size, grafting that onto an existing apple tree, and evaluating the resulting fruit. For an existing variety, there are enough mutations whenever a tree puts out new growth that sometimes the fruit that results is just different enough to be worth cultivating and selling as new grafting stock – this is what happened with the Red Delicious, someone noticed that a particular red delicious tree had fruit that lasted longer and didn’t bruise as easily, so would be better at surviviing shipping and so on.
These new growth mutations are much less variable than cross pollination, relying on replication errors at the genetic level during growth, much like cancer. This is, of course, ignoring any attempts in induce mutation via gamma garden, chemicals, CRISPR, or other artificial means which are surely used these days.
Fun fact- three of those are the same apple. Planet Money did a great story on this. Apple varieties can’t be patented, but you can copyright apple names so most varieties we have now are just copies of successful varieties with new hip branding.
i honestly remember them being tasty as a kid in the 70s, but MAN are they bland now. and what’s with that sort of mealy texture?
Probably why I like them equally. And they usually look about the same. Some times a batch will come in with different colors or sizes.
I once bought an apple in Japan and only after I got outside did I calculate it cost me £5 (~$7)! It was a tasty apple, and big too, but it cost me!
Here in the U.K. it was Golden Delicious that was the really popular variety, but those went the same way.
As it happens, I’ve got a small apple tree that my parents bought years ago, I’ve no idea where from, or even the variety, any label vanished a long time past. It initially produced wonderful apples, incredibly juicy, very firm with a hugely satisfying crunch when you bit into them, sweet but with a slight tartness, the skin was pale green with a red tint and some striping.
Anyway, it was in a small pot, and over time it produced fewer and fewer flowers and apples, so my late step-dad yanked it out of the pot and plonked it into a small hole under my big silver birch, which did it no favours at all.
Several years ago I dug it up again, cleared the root ball, and tried it in a bigger hole with compost, but it still struggled and the leaves turned yellow, possibly due to the nature of the soil, so I bought a big pot and tried again. It’s now put on a massive amount of new leaf, flowered, and produced five apples, three of which are huge, and ripening off really well, and I can’t wait to try the first one for probably fifteen-twenty years, I just hope it matches my memory!
I’d love to know the variety, if it produces more next year, then I’ll send one to the apple experts to see if it can be identified.
There are a few branded apples that you can get in the UK, and they generally are better than their generic variants. My working hypotheses is that the brand comes with certain requirements around how they should be grown to make sure quality control is maintained.
As red delicious apples gradually became more beautiful, they also became less tasty.
So, are those essentially cupcake-fruits?
Without a transcript from that podcast I’m not going to commit time to it, but I’m surprised that there’s no mention of any true commonality among the wikipedia pages for any of those breeds. Which three did Planet Money claim were identical?
Yeah, the whole framing of this article is a little weird. If an orchard or nursery is utilizing selective breeding (growing from seed), the resulting sport is not a Red Delicious by definition. Apples are hyper zygotic and not capable of producing “true” genetic offspring. It’s the main reason they’re grown everywhere and every region has its own varietals. Biodiversity from the jump.
My wife has similar problems, although we haven’t tested them straight from a friend’s tree. I think she had issues with apples at a local orchard, though. She doesn’t feel cramps after eating baked apples, though. She might even be ok with them peeled. We were told she might have an allergy. I’m thinking it might be something on the apples. Like whatever may be sprayed on commercial apples (and pears).
For me, it doesn’t matter if they’re cooked or not.
Bummer. Sounds like it’s something else. Good luck figuring it out.