Two apple questions

Any answers/comments are appreciated....
1. When I was a kid, we got "Red Delicious" apples that were. They had just a hint of green and were firm, tart and wonderful. In the last 10 years (at least), I've noticed that the Red Delicious apples I buy at the store are soft, yellow and mealy. My mom and a friend noticed the same thing. Various other places on the Usenet, I've seen people decrying the RD apple for it's poor texture and flavor... but they weren't always that way. What happened to this variety?
2. Growing up in a small town, a local fraternal organization always had a Christmas party where the kids each got a huge red apple. These things were giants -- about the size of a softball -- and they were tasty too. Anyone know about such a variety and where I could get some?
Thanks! -Cloy
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snipped-for-privacy@tobola.com (Cloy Tobola) wrote:
I haven't noticed any change in the Red Delicious apple. 60 years ago they were large, red, and soft with little flavor. Today they are large, red, and soft with little flavor.
Dick

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Richard Cline wrote:

> > I haven't noticed any change in the Red Delicious apple. 60 years ago > they were large, red, and soft with little flavor. Today they are > large, red, and soft with little flavor.
There are lots of foods that taste good to kids that are insipid or worse when we get older. A friend recently got some sort of cookie for his nieces and nephew and their friends. He tried one himself and couldn't finish it.
--Jeff
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When I give food to the poor
they call me a saint.
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[rec.food.veg snipped, because I don't read that group]
Cloy Tobola wrote:

Maybe the brand got diluted, or the stock, or both.
My last experience with "Red Delicious" was probably 25 years ago in SW Ontario (local or import, I don't know -- I was just a kid). I don't recall the yellow you describe, except maybe in small spots, and never the green, but certainly the "mealy". I can say that "firm" and "tart" were never words we'd use to describe them.
My perception as a kid was that "Red Delicious" were always vastly inferior apples. You bought them when no other variety was fresh and available. They were a solid, dark red, and certainly had no resistance you could call "firm". They didn't aspire to be spherical; they were long and drawn out at the bottom. The flesh was mushy and almost without flavour.
With apples, it's almost certain that the variety of Red Delicious that I experienced was different from other varieties sold under the same name, and that shipment and refrigeration rendered them different than those picked off the tree.
But with "Red Delicious", it was the first inkling of my theory that when a word is used in a commercial context, the connotation is quite the opposite of reality, in fact an attempt to address a failure. They certainly were *not* delicious.
But I ramble...
--
Willondon

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snipped-for-privacy@tobola.com writes:

A fresh (and ripe!) Red Delicious is wonderful. They are not, however, good keepers, and are far inferior for storage than the Yellow Delicious. What happened to yours? Cold storage! I suspect that "improvements" in cold storage have taken their toll as well. It would be impossible to keep several varieties of apples under exactly the same conditions and have all of them taste right; they simply have different characteristics. Reds just don't store well, especially picked a bit green for the commercial market.
I grew up in apple country (the Yakima Valley in eastern Washington) so was very, very spoiled. My grandparents kept their apples in the shed, no special conditions. The reds were good only for cooking applesauce by January, the golds made it until February or early March. All of the cooking apples (Jonathans, Winesaps, etc.) made it until late March, even early April. And, yes, that was my adult memory as well as childhood. Methinks the scientists don't always taste what they "preserve."

This may very well be a King. I have a tree in my yard and described it to a local nurseryman; that was his guess. I am not kidding, two of these apples will make a 9-inch pie!!! Because they turn red early in the year, many folks walking by pick them thinking they are ripe. When they are ripe, they are a deep red . . . and huge. They are a bit on the tart side for me, so I use them only for cooking, and they are wonderful. Out of curiousity, I just went out and picked one off the ground, cut and measured it. It is 3-3/4" across and 3-1/2 inches tall. There are many larger ones still on the tree.
Good fortune smiled on me when I bought this house which has several apple varieties, all but one are good. My favorite, only when fresh off the tree, is the Red Delicious but after picking and waiting, it is the Gold Delicious. All the others go into pie or sauce.
This time of year, many locations have garden shops/nurseries have apple tasting festivals. See if you can find one in your area and partake. You might also take a couple of apples from your tree and see if they can be identified. Often, even if the employees don't know, there is a customer who does.
At a garage sale earlier this year, there was a small wine press for a great price which now resides at my house. I'm hoping to take the time to try it out with fallen fruit; if I can figure it out (can't imagine it being difficult<g>), I'll make some juice for fall from the good stuff. My simple mind doesn't see the difference between a wine press and cider press, they both squeeze the juice out of the fruit. It was such a low price, it's worth it to experiment. <g>
Happy tasting.
Glenna
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snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:
-snip-

-snip-
Other end of the country -- and I agree with Glenna. I'm in upstate NY - 'the other apple country' - and I like a *fresh* Delicious apple once in a while. Those shiney red things they sell in the supermarket are just for show, though.
I get a dozen or so Delicious apples from the orchards when they are in season. But then I go for the Empires until late spring. Empires are smaller, crisper & tarter. [again I buy them from a local orchard-- the orchard gets theirs right into the cold storage where they don't share the air with a hundred other rotting fruits and veggies, and where they sit until they come out for sale.]
Jim
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Local farmers have things here that are redder (as opposed to dark red maroon that seems the standard for Red Delicious these days), smaller, a bit tarter, and somewhat less uniformly colored than storebought delicious. Certainly some of the 60 cultivars that Steve describes in his wonderful post. They still don't float my boat, see below.

Empires are good keepers. They also cook well. But in time I have come to appreciate Idared above all other apples for keeping into february. I usually buy two bushels of apples in early october, and three in mid-november for late season and keepers.
For general purpose (like juicing), Jonathan is hard to beat, a bushel costs $6 (at the farmer market in Michigan). For cooking, I have never tasted anything better than Cortland (also a nice eating apple, $6 a bushel). For eating, Northern Spys may cost $12 a bushel and be of uneven quality, but the 30% or so that are a perfect yellow-pink-red are the best of the best. Idared for late season, as I mentioned ($6).
I usually then buy a few pecks of what looks best. Michigan Golden Delicious (always with a red blush on the sunny side, must be eaten fresh because it does not keep) are extraordinary. Enterprise packs a lot of flavor, but also Winesaps can sway me.
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simy1 wrote:

Thanks, I wondered if anyone would read it. It got kind of long and I'm guilty myself of skimming over a long post pretty fast unless it grabs me. I love stories like that though and I love the fact that little histories like that were not all lost over time.
Steve
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I usually skip too - but that one was interesting enough to read through.
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Cloy Tobola asked:

It's possible that the best apples are sold to Japan or other countries? I imagine the best go to places that get the best prices.
I'm thinking along the lines that different stores will sell different apples... Walmart is a store that looks for the lowest prices and they tend to buy things at low prices, while if Publix offered a higher price for better apples, Publix could possibly get better apples. It may depend 100% upon the buyers for the store on how well they keep up with the quality of the goods they buy.
--
Jim Carlock
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Jim Carlock wrote:

I don't think there is a huge number of apples exported out of the US to Japan but certainly some are. They probably are the better ones.
I remember reading an article many years ago about the apples grown in Chili. They Export apples to the US, Europe, and Japan. An interviewer was talking to an apple grower. They were looking at a bunch of beautiful perfect looking apples. (sorry, I have no memory of which varieties were being discussed.) The interviewer asked if those were being shipped to Europe. The answer was "no, those have no flavor, they will be going to the US". The quote from the Chilean grower that makes me remember the whole thing is: "People in Europe taste their apples with their mouth. Americans seem to only taste apples with their eyes." That tells the whole story.
Steve
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Cloy Tobola wrote:

The orchards bred all the good taste out of the apple to make it red and shinny for market appeal. Also, changes were made to make the apple hold up under periods of shipment to the market place. Stark's nursery is selling what they call is the original strain of Red Delicious. I haven't heard any feedback yet as to the quality of these apples.

There are probably a good number of apples that come close to meeting that criteria. Possibly a 'Wolf River', although that one is stripped red over pale yellow.
Sherwin Dubren

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Cloy Tobola wrote:

I don't have a guess about question #2 but I do have some comments about #1.
I've read stories about the history of the Red Delicious apple a couple of times over the years and I found it interesting. I'll try to tell some of it from memory. I may not have every fact perfect but the general idea will be there....
First of all, nobody called them RED delicious until decades later when an unrelated apple came to be named Golden Delicious. Before that they were just called Delicious. The apple that came to be the most widely grown variety in the world almost was lost more than once. The original tree came up as a seedling near some other apple trees on the property of a farmer in Iowa in the 1860s. He didn't want another tree, at least not in that location, so he cut it down. It sprouted back up the next year and he cut it down again. When it grew back yet again, he let it grow for some reason. Maybe he just didn't around to cutting it down again? Anyway, he let it grow and when it produced the first apples, they were really good. The apple was a bright red with streaks of green to yellow (not at all like the deep dark ones we usually see now). He ended up naming the variety "Hawkeye" and enjoyed the the fruit for many years. He probably shared scions with friends and neighbors but otherwise, it was only known locally. The big break came in the 1890s when Stark Nurseries sponsored an apple contest. A small box of Hawkeyes were sent to Missouri for the contest. It won the contest and Mr. Stark named it delicious. There was yet another chance for it to be lost because they lost the name and address of the farmer who sent in the apples. They held the same contest the next year and just hoped the same apples would be sent in again. Luckily they were and they quickly made the trip to Iowa to talk to the farmer. The Stark nursery sold the Delicious variety nation wide with great success.
So what went wrong? The tree seems to produce sports rather easily ... or maybe it was just that there were millions of trees and genetic mistakes just happened. Commercial growers got a better price if they sold the apples earlier than most others. Some of the sports/mutations had thicker, darker red skin. Some produced the red color long before the apple was really ripe. If apples look good, they will sell in the stores whether they are good or not. Years ago there were over 60 cultivars of the original Delicious available. Probably more by now. (Not seed grown. Seeds of a named variety produce a new variety that needs a new name.) They were probably all selected for their appearance, not flavor.
There are people who claim to have the original cultivar. Others claim the real original is extinct but they have one that is very close. If you want to know what a Delicious is supposed to taste like, you may have to find one of these trees and grow it yourself. I've never tasted one of these myself but my parents have one that is an older cultivar that still has some of the stripes and bright red (not dark red). Those are actually quite good when tree ripened as they should be.
Steve in the Adirondacks
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Steve wrote:

Ha! I'm sitting here at the computer with the TV on behind me. Jeopardy is on and I hear Alex reading a clue. I don't know that I heard it all but I heard him say Red Delicious and then Hawkeye and "originally found here". We all knew that one.... right? Of course, Ken Jennings knew to answer "what is Iowa". A minute later he guessed that Cleveland was located on Lake Michigan, proving that he doesn't know everything. :-)
Steve
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He has gotten many similar ones wrong. People think he is superhuman, but he is not. He is merely operating under a new set of rules which are certainly to be changed when he loses. I have seen stronger players in the past. Alas, they were limited to five days.
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Randy Given wrote:

I feel the same way. Dropping the 5 day limit has certainly turned out to be a mistake. After 5 or 10 wins, he got so comfortable being there and had gotten so good at the timing required to ring in, knowing more than him was no longer enough to win. I suppose you have heard the rumors that game 75 is his last. I searched online to confirm that, but found nothing that was very convincing. We'll see in a few weeks.
Steve
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1) I have two cousins that each have a Red Delicious tree. One is fairly firm, tart, and slightly juicy if eaten tree ripe and not stored , while the other is mealy, soft, and dry right off the tree. I believe the mealy producer was bought at K-Mart (or some home and garden store ala Lowes) about 12-15 yrs ago, while the other's age is unknown as it was on the farm he bought 16 yrs ago. I guess I should do a comparison test someday.
2) If the softball size apples had some green streaks on the skin, it may have been a Rome Beauty.
Just my unwanted 2 cents worth. Homer
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com writes:

I also thank you, Steve. It was very interesting. It also explained the very different qualities of the "same" apple. It's great you took the time to post it.
noone_atall@home writes:

Likewise have I, only for much, much longer. While fresh off the tree are great! After reading the messages about this, it appears that the apples of my childhood, early adulthood (both from my grandparents' trees, and my own R.D. tree may be from the original varieties and have escaped the "improvements."

Could be, Homer. However, the Romes are about the same size as a large Delicious. The Kings are much, much larger, quite frankly the largest apple I've ever see, and growing up in the Yakima Valley, I saw some monster apples!
As I recall, they usually used the Romes for apple-dunking. I think it was at least partly because of the more rounded shape of the apple to make it more of a challenge.
Glenna
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Thanks to everyone for your responses -- confirmed what I thought about Red Delicious. (I'm not crazy... they have gotten bad over the years!!)
Anyone know where I can buy a case of King apples?
-c
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