Red Delicious apples are medium-sized and have a conical shape. They are broadly round at the top and taper at the base. The thick skin turns bright red well before the fruits are fully ripe, which can lead to early harvests. As they mature, the skin becomes a darker red with white lenticels visibly dotting the surface. The fine-grained flesh is creamy white, crisp and juicy and offers a mildly sweet taste with flavors of melon.
Red Delicious apples are available year-round with a peak season in the early fall.
Red Delicious apples are one of the most well known commercially grown apples in the United States. The Botanically, they are classified as Malus domestica. Red Delicious apples look a lot different today than when they were first discovered. Over a period of nearly 100 years, improvements were made, altering the fruit’s shape, firmness, juiciness and even its color. Red Delicious is the parent apple of several popular varieties like the Starkrimson, Empire and Fuji apples.
Red Delicious apples are high in dietary fiber and contain vitamin C. They offer a small amount of vitamin A and sodium and traces of calcium and iron. Red Delicious apples are higher in antioxidants than many other apple varieties, most of which are contained in the skin.
Red Delicious apples are best used in fresh preparations, as their flesh does not hold up well when cooked. Add to green, fruit and chopped salads. Use as an edible garnish on sandwiches, quesadillas and burgers. Since their flesh breaks down easily, they can be successfully slow cooked and pureed to make sauces and for soups. Their flavor pairs well with cinnamon, cheddar cheese, horseradish, chard, cherries, mustard and pecans. Red Delicious apples can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Red Delicious apples saw tremendous commercial success between 1940 and the late 1980s, with the bulk of the production in Washington State. Their popularity has declined slightly since then as consumer interest has swayed to new varieties and farmer’s markets and boutique orchards have helped renew interest in heirloom apples.
Red Delicious apples were discovered as a chance seedling in 1872 on the Iowa farm of Jesse Hiatt. They were initially marketed under the name Hawkeye until rights to the apple were sold to the Stark Brothers fruit company. They were renamed ‘Delicious’ and later improvements were made with the selection of redder, firmer and longer storing fruits. After the introduction of the unrelated ‘golden delicious’ they were renamed Red Delicious. Production of Red Delicious apples peaked in the 1980s and has waned since then with the reemergence of heirloom varieties and the popularity of farmer’s markets. Red Delicious apples can be found in markets throughout the United States and are exported to many countries