August Apples

Flowers in the orchard add color and food for pollinators, Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)

AUGUST APPLES. THE DOUBLE ENTENDRE is intentional. These varieties ripen this month, and they are a robust, impressive bunch. Here are 10 of the best:

Akane is juicy and flavorful with a firm texture. Ready for harvest in mid- to late August, like many early season apples, it does not store well, and should be eaten within a month or so of harvest. It is sometimes called Primrouge for its striking red color,

Akane was discovered in Japan in 1937, and released commercially in 1970. It is a cross between two heirloom varieties, Jonathan and Worcester Pearmain.

Dandee Red, a newer variety, Blue Hills Orchard, Wallingford, Connecticut. (Cosmo LaViola)

Dandee Red is a large, round Paula Red-like apple with a crispy tart and creamy yellow to white flesh, which does not brown when cut.

Dandee Red was discovered in 1997 as a sport variety, or limb mutation, of Paula Red that ripens about one week earlier than Paula Red. Unlike most early season apples, properly stored Dandee Red stays crisp for several months. It was released commercially in 2006.

Ginger Gold is sweet, tangy, and juicy. It is round or slightly conical with a smooth, green-yellow skin and occasionally a slight red blush. Ginger Gold is an excellent multi-purpose eating and cooking apple; it also excels as a salad apple, as its crisp, white flesh browns slowly when sliced. Ginger Gold is harvested in mid- to late August.

Ginger Gold, one of the best early season apples, Breezeland Orchards, Warren, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)

Discovered in a Virginia orchard in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1969, Ginger Gold’s is likely a cross between Golden Delicious and Newtown (Albemarle) Pippin.

Gravenstein is an heirloom with a thin skin and a juicy, sweet flavor. It is outstanding for its culinary use, especially in pies, sauces, and ciders. It does not store well.

Gravenstein’s history is uncertain, but it may have originated in Denmark in 1669. Gravenstein is the German name for the town of Gråsten in southern Denmark. It may be one of four Russian apples imported to the United States by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in the 1800s.

Jersey Mac is noted for its sweet, strawberry-like flavor and bright white flesh. It has a tough, dark red skin. Jersey Mac is ready for picking in late August.

Jersey Mac was developed at Rutgers University’s College of Agriculture in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1956. It has a complex pedigree, including Melba, Wealthy, and Red Rome. 

Paula Red boasts a red color with light yellow striping and has a sweet tart flavor with a hint of strawberry. Its firm flesh makes Paula Red a good fresh eating and cooking apple, especially good for a delicious, naturally pink applesauce and for pie making. It ripens in late August, and like most early apples, Paula Red does not keep for long.

A good crop of Honeycrisp will gain color by harvest, Chapin Orchard, Essex Junction, Vermont. (Cosmo LaViola)

Paula Red was discovered as a chance seedling in Michigan in 1960.

Premier Honeycrisp shares many of the same attributes of Honeycrisp, but ripens three weeks earlier.

Premier Honeycrisp are coloring nicely, Rogers Orchards, Southington, Connecticut. (Cosmo LaViola)

Exceptionally juicy with an explosive crunch beyond compare, Honeycrisp has a variable red skin with pale green highlights. Its crispy flesh is cream-colored with a mostly sweet flavor. Honeycrisp is excellent for fresh-eating and in salads. Honeycrisp can be picked as early as late August. It is a good storing apple.

Premier Honeycrisp was discovered in Pennsylvania in 2010. It is a tree sport, or limb mutation.

Pristine is a medium round apple with translucent lemon-yellow skin and a light pink blush. A crisp, juicy apple with pale yellow flesh, its sweet-tart flavor has hints of citrus. Pristine is unusually crisp for an early season apple, and stores well compared to many early varieties. It is one of the earliest apples to ripen, in mid-August.

Pristine was developed in West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1975, by the Illinois, Indiana, and New Jersey (PRI) joint apple-breeding program with pollen from a numbered seedling crossed with Camuzat, a little-known apple from Spain. Pristine was released commercially in 1994. Its ancestry includes Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Red Delicious, and Rome Beauty.

Sansa is a red, medium-large apple with a deep pink blush on a yellow skin. Its firm flesh is light green with red in color. This tender, extra sweet, and juicy variety is picked in August, and it keeps well.

Sansa was the product of a collaboration between apple breeders in Japan and New Zealand in 1989. It is a cross between Gala and Akane.

Zestar! is a medium-large, mostly red apple, but it can be a creamy yellow on its shaded side. It is a crunchy, juicy, fresh-eating and cooking apple with an even balance of acid and sugar, some noting a brown-sugar aftertaste. Zestar! ripens in mid-August, and, unlike most early apples, stores well if kept refrigerated.

Zestar! — originally named Zesta — was introduced in 1998 from the fruit breeding program at the University of Minnesota. It was developed from a cross of State Fair and an unnamed variety.

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AUGUST IS A GLORIOUS TIME in the orchard. In addition to apples, many orchards have other tree fruits ready, or soon to be ready, for picking. Here is a tantalizing sample.

Visit our Orchard Finder to see who is growing what, and call ahead to see what is available for your visit.

Early Golden plums are a brilliant color and very juicy, Breezeland Orchards, Warren, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)
Bartlett pears, Holmberg Orchards, Gales Ferry, Connecticut. (Cosmo LaViola)
Flaming Fury peaches, Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut. (Cosmo LaViola)

3 Comments

  • Clivia

    Looking forward to apple season. Thanks for the tantalizing information! Not a connoisseur yet but I do love reading about the history & breeding.

  • Clivia Pasek

    Looking forward to apple season. Thanks for the tantalizing information! Not a connoisseur yet but I do love reading about the history & breeding.

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