The comprehensive resource for apples and orchards

Empire apple



In North America deep red apples have always been popular, and Empire is a typical example of this style of apple. The colour is an intense marroon-red, overlying a light green background, and for children in particular it shouts out "eat me".

Empire was developed at Cornell University in New York state, USA in the 1940s, and its parents are classic old North American varieties - Delicious and McIntosh.  These are both shiny red apples.  It is an ideal lunch-box apple, not least because it does not bruise easily.

Empire is a sweet apple with a crisp texture and bright white flesh.  Although Empire can be stored for a short period, it is best when eaten straight from the tree. It has the characteristic and unusual McIntosh flavor, often described in apple textbooks as "vinous". Perhaps the best way to describe it is like a hint of melon or pineapple or elderflower.

Red Delicious dominates American apple production, but most of that production takes place in Washington State on the west coast.  The natural home of Empire is the north-eastern United States - where McIntosh and its offspring such as Cortland are also most at home.  Empire accounts for about 60% of the apple exports of New York State, but nationally accounts for only about 2% of American apple production - along with Idared and Jonathan. That still puts it in the top 10 American apples though, but also shows how localised the production is.  Empire has all the qualities growers look for, easy maintenance, strong well-shaped trees, attractive apples, and heavy crops - no biennial bearing here!

The McIntosh style of apple is not especially well-known in the UK, although both Empire and its close cousin Spartan are sometimes available in UK supermarkets, and Spartan is a popular and successful garden apple variety in the UK

Last updated 16 Dec 2010.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 4.2 out of 5. Total votes cast: 14
 

Visitor comments

(Use the form at the bottom to add your own comments about this variety)

20 Nov 2014 
I love Empire apples but unable to find any shops that sell them anymore.why?.


06 Oct 2014 
Empires are one of my favourite varities because they taste quite a bit like a Mac when eaten fresh, but bake better than a Mac (producing better texture). If you want an apple that can play both roles, the Empire is a good choice.


19 Aug 2014 
Nothing else compares! I, too, am addicted to the crunchy, sweet taste. When I mange to find them in season, no one else in the house is allowed to eat my stash. I didn't realise there were others out there like me who had the 'Empire Addiction'. I can't find anything else that compares.


22 Jul 2014 
Dont ask me how I made it to 25 year old, living in apple country in NEW YORK where Empires originated, without trying them. I suppose I had overlooked them before thinking they were past their prime; on the tree they look dull and are a very dark almost burgundy/purple color. I went apple picking with my husband 6 years ago and I got curious and picked one, once I shined it up a little it was a beautiful deep red. Once I took a bite I was hooked and I packed the rest of our bags with them. They are a great balance of sweet and tart and they are very crisp. I find eating them warm better than chilled. I havent found the ones in the store to measure up, they arent as flavorful and tend to be more mealy and soft which I dont like in an apple. I am considering getting us our own tree, these are definitely one of my top 5 favorite varieties.


11 Feb 2014 
By far my favorite apple. I have 2 trees that are consistent bearers. They are great keepers and will remain fresh in my garage refrigerator through winter until spring. They are a bit suceptible to apple scab, but will do well if you plant them where there is good wind circulation, sunlight and you maintain a regular spraying program.


21 Oct 2013 
I just bought a house and discovered two small Empire apple trees in the back yard. They are heavy with fruit and much to my delight when I bit into the first one I picked. Juicy, sweet and crunchy, excellent flavour ! A great addition to my early season Duchess. I am elated to have these trees.


22 Jan 2013 
Bo- This apple is soft all over. A sweet red flavor and a flesh soft and mealy enough for children's fresh teeth. Mash 'em yourself for home-made baby-food!


09 Sep 2012 
By far my favorite, sweet-tart and crunchy. an all around good apple...I just wish the Western varieties of apples were even remotely as good a NY apples.


09 Sep 2012 
I have lived in the West for 6 years and I still have not way to get my NY apple fix, specifically my EMPIRE apple fix. The apples in UT are mostly from WA state and for the most part are flavorless (even the apples from local UT orchards are bland...why bother??).


23 Jan 2012 
Veriy similar to a mac, skin is a bit thick for me


07 Nov 2011 
I tried the empire apple while in the orchard at UCSC where there are 100 different apple tree varieties. Its taste was distinctively gratifying, crunchy, and a good balance of sugars and acids. I am ordering four for my own orchard.


03 Jul 2011 
A beautiful, crisp, juicy, sour-sweet apple with firm flesh that stores very well. Examples grown in New York state are the best. Ones from British Columbia are inferior in both taste and appearance, but still very good apples.


18 Feb 2011 
Empires are our favourite apple and we can't usually find them here on the Island. We came from Ontario where they were easier to get. Now I'm looking for tree stock so I can grow my own.


08 Feb 2011 
I love Empire apples so much that I have to eat at least 2 a day to be happy! It's February and they're really sweet and crispy and juicy right now. I get them at Morrisons and was looking online to find if they are anywhere else, cheaper. An apple that fits into the palm of my hand costs about 40p, which is more than half a dollar. Crazy!


04 Mar 2010 
A slender apple, very shiny to look at and gives a consistent crunch. The pure white inners are not only visualy pleasing, but they are full of flavour too, an over all good apple


03 Dec 2009 
I am concluding that this apple may not do so well in the UK in a less than good summer. I like the acidity, juiciness and the crunch, but the sweetness that many US posters mention is very often missing. It would be best described as watery. I will reserve judgement until I have tasted one from the UK from a great summer.


13 Nov 2009 
Empires are grown mainly in the US and Canada but there are some grown in the UK and Benelux. The only problem is that they are available from Late October to April / May (depending on the season).


02 Nov 2009 
While I love the taste and the crunch of this apple, I do not like the skin for some reason.


12 Oct 2009 
I have to agree with every positive review of the Empire variety. We are fortunate to have a backyard supply. The tree was here when we moved in 25 yrs ago and until now we did not have a name for it--just called it "sort of like a Spartan" :-) Thanks to a friend who referred me to your great website, we now have the name for this queen of apples. Thank you!


25 Sep 2009 
I tried this variety for the first time last year while looking for a good drying apple. Of 10 varieties that I dried, Empire retained it's flavor best, with a pleasant texture. I will be drying more this year, you can be sure!


19 Apr 2009 
Empire are without doubt the best apples I have ever eaten, but are only available for a short time here in the UK (Tesco is the only place I can find them!) BUT, does anyone have any suggestions for alternatives which come a close second when Empire are not available?


17 Apr 2009 
yes a superb apple. Waitrose and Sainsbury's often sell them where I live.


31 Mar 2009 
I used to buy apples every week, usually buying on price and looks. I first tasted Empire Apples last year when I bought some from Tesco, they were by far the best apples I have ever eaten. After a few weeks our local Tesco seemed to stop stocking them so I stopped buying apples because no other apple compares. Fortunately Tesco have now (March 2009) started stocking them again so they are back on the weekly shopping list.


19 Mar 2009 
empire apples are sold in borehamwood tesco, in hertfordshire. they surely are one of the best apples there are.


08 Mar 2009 
Saw these for the first time at Sainsburys. They might be stocking them soon.


03 Mar 2009 
I love empire apples. They'e so crunchy & sweet & tangy, clearly the best apples there are! BUT I can't find them anywhere! Last year I was able to buy them is ASDA while they are in season but this year I never saw any anywhere. Help! If anyone knows where I can buy some in England, or online, I'd love you to let me know! Lauren yourethevoice@hotmail.co.uk


21 Nov 2008 
can you please help a novice I would like to have a orchard and have enough room for 15 trees,i would like maiden trees on a m106 root stock but as im in Devon the trees must be disease resistant ,if possible could you recommend 10 eaters for me please


19 Nov 2008 
I would like to add "The empire apples are friendly if you suffering some sort of alergy, myself Empire apples are the only apples i can eat without alergy reaction. again does anybody knows why they are not in the UK market????


12 Oct 2008 
i dont know what to do, the supermarkets no longer sell these amazing apples, i formed a habit of 4-6 a day! i am at a loss and no other apple measures up :( hence me going to great lengths to find them, sigh.


03 Oct 2008 
where is this u-pick empire apples in julian? what is it called? thanks!


21 Sep 2008 
I just visited Julian, CA where there is a U-Pick apple orchard with Empire apples. The Empires were the best of the varieties they had. On the branch in the sun, they actually look more purple, but once you rub off the natural dust, they were as pictured. Very sweet, crunchy, and easy to eat more than one. In the orchard at ambient temperature, you don't really notice the tartness, but once refrigerated and cold, the tartness comes out.


01 Jul 2008 
We love Empire apples and cannot get enough of them (literary) none of the supermarkets are selling them at present.


30 May 2008 
As a child, I grew up in a part of the country where apple orchards were plentiful, and many varieties were readily available. However, it has been only recently that I have gotten hooked on empire apples. Their firm, crisp texture and pleasantly sweet flavour make them a satisfying snack...everytime!


20 May 2008 
I was always an avid Granny Smith eater, the sharper the better, but my tastebuds have now changed and I am hooked on Empire Apples which are beautifully crisp and sweet, unfortunately I have been unable to buy any these past two weeks in any of my local large supermarkets, I must ask and find out why!!


20 May 2008 
The empire apple is a tasteless, hard apple whose parts add up to far more than the sum. McIntosh and Red delicious are among the fruitiest, juiciest apples apples around, and it is annoying that the hybrid is so poor.


30 Apr 2008 
Unfortunately, having tried this variety of apple (bought from Tesco), I found them completely tasteless and did not enjoy them at :-(


25 Apr 2008 
I bought some Empire apples for the first time about 3 weeks ago and have bought them evey time I have been shopping since. They are delicious, crisp (they give that appealing crunch sound everytime you bite a wedge off) and juicy. I'd day they are definitely my favourite apple but then I am a relative newcomer. I have only recently started buying different varieties in order to compare them but I am now hooked, thanks mainly to this site. People at work think I'm a bit mad but I managed to ween one person off her Red Delicious the other day with the help of the far superior Empire!


14 Apr 2008 
Empires are the best apples ever! They're so crisp and sweet..I'm addicted I eat 3/4 a day.


12 Feb 2008 
My favorite out-of-hand apple, having supplanted the Macintosh. Sadly, only available here in the fall.


08 Feb 2008 
Empire, in my opinion, is far and away the best apple for fresh eating. It used to be in good supply in grocery stores in North Carolina when I lived there, but disappeared three or four years ago. Now, here in Colorado, the produce managers that I have queried have never even heard of it!


23 Jan 2008 
They are in the supermarkets at the moment. Tesco is best. but they frequently sell out cos they are so popular.


11 Jan 2008 
my husband loves empire apples but i just cant find them anywhere, do you have any clues


20 Oct 2007 
I LOVE Empire apples but am having a hard time finding them in the eastern part of VA. Do you know any reasons why? I used to be able to find them here.



Add your comments about this variety

Have you tasted this variety ? Do you agree or disagree with our tasting notes ? Enter your comments below. Please tell us your name (just first name if you wish) and email address, and if possible the nearest city. Your name and location, but not your email address, may be published on this website. All comments are reviewed before publishing.

Your email   required
Name   required
City   optional
State / County   optional
Country    required
Comments
Password   Create a password for your account
Organisation   optional
Security question: What is the 1st or 2nd word of the name of this website (in big letters in the banner of this page)?
Answer
We send 2-3 newsletters per year, please let us know if you would like to receive them. Rest assured that we do not buy or sell email addresses - for more details see our privacy policy.
Newsletters

One of the best McIntosh-style apples, with a good sweet vinous flavor, and easy to grow.

Empire phototape

Origins

  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: McIntosh x Delicious
  • Originates from: United States
  • Introduced: 1945
  • Developed by: New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1021
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession number: 1962-041

Identification

  • Fruit colour: Red
  • Flesh colour: White
  • Flesh colour: White to Cream, pale yellow
  • Fruit size: Small
  • Fruit size: Medium
  • Fruit size: Variable

Using

  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Harvest period: Late season

Growing

  • Flowering period: Mid-Late season
  • Flowering group: 4
  • Fertility: Partially self-fertile
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Gardening skill: Very easy
  • Precocity: Precocious
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
  • Period of origin: 1900 - 1949

Climate

  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
  • Climate suitability: Tolerates cold winters

Disease resistance

  • Mildew  - Some resistance
  • Fireblight  - Some resistance
  • Cedar apple rust  - Some resistance
  • Scab  - Some susceptibility

Relationships to other varieties

Parents and other ancestors of this variety:

Offspring of this variety:

Siblings of this variety (same parentage):

  • Spartan - Spartan and Empire are half-brothers

References and further reading about this variety

  • Cedar-Apple Rust  
    Author: Stephen Vann, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture (FSA7538)
    Rated as resistant - control only needed under high disease pressure.

Empire identification photos from official fruit collections

UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

Empire identification photos from website visitors


Empire apples, Toronto, Canada
Empire apples, Toronto, Canada

Empire apples, Quebec
Empire apples, Quebec


Fruit tree register

Do you have a tree of this variety in your garden or orchard? If so please register the details here and contribute to our international register of fruit trees.

The following Empire trees have been registered - click the name to view more details of each tree.

You can also view these trees on a map.

United States

Canada

Australia

  • Hayden in WINSLOW, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA


Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2013 season

  • 9th May  2013  - tree owned by Alison in HADLEY, United States

2012 season

  • April  2012  - tree owned by Michelle in GLENWOOD, United States

2011 season

  • May  2011  - tree owned by Leslie in KELOWNA, Canada
  • April  2011  - tree owned by Michelle in GLENWOOD, United States

Record your blossom dates in our Fruit Tree Register - more >>.

Latest harvest records for this variety

2013 season

    2012 season

    • October  2012  - tree owned by Michelle in GLENWOOD, United States

    2011 season

    • 2nd week October  2011  - tree owned by Leslie in KELOWNA, Canada
    • 2nd week October  2011  - tree owned by Carolina in VASHON, United States
    • October  2011  - tree owned by Michelle in GLENWOOD, United States

    Where to buy apple trees

    The following fruit tree nurseries offer Empire apple trees for sale:

    • Cummins Nursery
      United States  More >>

    Where to buy apples

    United Statesmap >


    Canadamap >






    Sign in | Register

    Varieties you viewed


    Top 10 Varieties

    Top 10 highest ranked varieties

    Top 10 most voted on varieties


    Events


    ©2014 Orange Pippin Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Website by: Amarsys and Black Twig
    You may not reproduce any of the content of this website withour our express permission.
    We do not accept any liability for loss or damage incurred as a result of any errors in the content of this website.