The comprehensive resource for apples and orchards

Red Delicious apple



Red Delicious is one of the most famous American apples, and one of the most widely grown apple varieties. Although the names are similar, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious are entirely different varieties. There are a lot of other similarities though: both varieties were discovered in the USA at the end of the 19th century, both need warm climates, both have interesting histories, and both are basically sweet apples.

Red Delicious is "sport" of the original Delicious apple, the bright red colour making it more commercially successful, and it has become a very important commercial apple variety especially in North America.

Red Delicious is a medium-sized apple, with a tall conical shape. The dark and intense crimson colour makes it the quintessential red apple, and it is has strong shelf appeal.  A number of improved "sports" have been developed, of which the most well-known is probably Starking.

Unfortunately the visual appeal is not matched by the flavor. Red Delicious has a sweet but very mild flavor, somewhat reminscent of slightly over-ripe melon. The flesh is juicy and has a light crispness.  The skin can be quite tough.  Overall Red Delicious can be quite a refreshing apple to eat, but its chief characteristic is that it has almost no flavor at all.

Some enthusiasts also believe that in the development of more highly coloured variants, the good flavor of the original Delicious has been bred out.

Numerous further sports of Red Delicious have been developed, including: Oregon, Otago, Red Chief, Red King, Red Spur, Richared, Starking, Starkrimson, Starkspur.

Red Delicious, like Golden Delicious, is starting to decline in popularity. According to the "Washington Post", Red Delicious' share of the harvest in Washington State, one of the USA's key apple-growing regions, has fallen from 3/4qtrs to just over 1/3rd of production in the 20 years to 2003. The lack of flavour is cited as one of the factors, and in Europe (where flavour has perhaps been relatively more important to consumers), Red Delicious has never been that successful.  It is also worth noting that the vast majority of American Red Delicious production takes place in Washington State, where the cooler autumn climate contributes towards the perfect deep red finish and distinctive conical appearance.  Red Delicious grown elsewhere in the US tends not to have the same level of red colouration, forcing growers to use some of the redder sports, which in turn do not always have the conical characteristics which consumers associate with Red Delicious.

Red Delicious has been extensively used in breeding programmes, and its most interesting modern offspring is probably Fuji. It is also a parent of Empire, which inherits some of the melon flavour. It may also be a parent of Cameo.

Last updated 02 Jul 2012.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 3.0 out of 5. Total votes cast: 60
 

Visitor comments

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

12 May 2014 
A tree ripened fresh picked Red D is tough to beat to me. I do think there are many others that store better and are better buys at the grocery store but from your own yard, one mighty fine apple. Durable tree too. Probably better to try and find an older strain if you want to plant though.


13 Mar 2014 
I wanted to leave another review because I just bought three Reds at Safeway, which turned out to be very fresh. And I must say, a very nice eating apple. Very crisp, with light flesh. Easy to bite into. Sweet flavor and a pleasantly bitter skin. I guess I must concede that the Red is not intrinsically bad, but just a victim of mass distribution.


10 Mar 2014 
I grew up with a large red delicious orchard in our backyard. A fresh, ripe red delicious from those trees was wonderful and one of my favorites. But, after a couple of weeks in the cellar or after coming out of CA they were unremarkable to awful. These were ancient full size trees - I am not sure about the trees bred today, but I hope the variety hasn't been ruined.


04 Mar 2014 
Red Delicious IS a delicious apple of you get a good one. It is just as crisp and sweet as all the others. Plus, it has what I consider a true apple flavor...not so floral like some fancier varieties. For example, the often praised Honeycrisp I recently tried, literally had a perfume-y flavor. It was juicy, but not very sweet. Maybe I got a bad one, but I thought it was overrated. The Red Delicious seems to get a bad reputation because there are too many bad ones in a batch. Believe it or not, I've found bagged ones at Walmart from Michigan Apples, distributed by Riveridge Produce, and there was not one dud in the two bags I've had so far. Recently, they ran out, so I bought a bag of organic ones from Washington. They weren't nearly as good. I threw most of them out. Therefore, I don't believe organic means you are necessarity going to get a good Red Delicious. Anyhow, I suggest keep trying Red Delicious until you get a crisp sweet juicy one. You won't regret it.


11 Jan 2014 
Curious after reading the reviews, I decided to buy a couple of organic Reds from Whole Foods. It had been long time since I had eaten one, as like most reviewers, I regard it as an inferior apple. I happened to get two different brands. The larger one just said "Red Delicious USA" and the smaller one said "Daisy Girl". They weren't as bad as I was expecting. The main complaint is blandness. After that is a rather mealy texture. But the apples were good enough to finish eating. I can remember Reds from my youth which were very crispy. Unless I'm imagining things.


23 Feb 2013 
For all those disappointed with the Red D, You are absolutely right. This apple underwent a fairly recent, fairly drastic change in the way it was bred and grown and handled that reduced it to junky mushy fruit it is today. Its reputation was well deserved at one point, however; a good Red Delicious should have a medium thick skin, be moderately crisp, very juicy and should taste like heaven, with strong floral scent and complex, sweet flesh marked by a hint of bitterness from the skin. It is truly one of the best apples you will ever taste. The only luck I have finding them is by buying "organic" Red Ds. I don't know how they are handled or grown that is different, but I bought one by chance and nearly cried when I bit in to it- the real Red Delicious was back! It was half the size of the standard grade Red and didn't have the thickened skin or dried out mealy character. Look local, look organic, look for fruitsellers that really know their stuff and don't give up hope! Stay away from the supermarkets and cafeteria Reds though.


18 Jun 2012 
I have been an apple freak for a long time, eating between 8 and 15 per day. Over the years I've eaten hundreds of different types and varieties. Of all the apples I've eaten, Red Delicious are my absolute favorite, but they weren't always. I too had many mealy, flavorless ones which drove me away from them until I discovered how to determine by feel, which were perfect and which weren't. Since then I rarely eat any other type and very seldom ever do I make a mistake and select a bad one from the market......and to me, the thick skin is what makes it perfect.....just the right taste and texture to compliment one that's just right for eating - crisp, firm, sweet and juicy. If you've been turned-off by eating one too many crappy ones, try choosing the apples that are firm all the way around with NO soft spots anywhere, look at the stems - choose the ones that look the freshest (2 apples can look identical, yet one will have a very dry wrinkled stem...it will be the soft mealy one), I also very seldom take the largest ones, usually the average to slightly smaller are the best eating......and finally - keep them cold in the fridge, they taste better, are more firm and bruises are easier to feel and cut out...really.


16 May 2012 
Nice color but lacking in flavor and often mealy, I wouldn't eat a Red Delicious unless it was picked right off the tree. And even then it may not be good.


20 Mar 2012 
I too used to dislike Red Delicious until I came to live in a house with an orchard attached. As I learned to know my fruit trees I soon realised that all apples taste like damp cardboard unless they are tree ripened. Red Delicious (the original) when fully ripe has often a "glass" or "water core" at which stage they have their full honey flavour and moisture content. Store bought apples cannot possibly have their full flavour and juice content as they have to be picked too early for a reasonable shelf life. No more damp cardboard for me or my customers!


03 Feb 2012 
Flavor is ok, skin is very thick which detracts from the taste of the apple. It also has a good crunch.


28 Oct 2011 
Perhaps there are some good ones going by the same name, but for my money they're only good for baiting groundhog traps (as long as you didn't pay money for them. At least they have the integrity to identify themselves by their characteristic bumps on the bottom. Maybe there are others with that trait, but RD's are the only ones I know. Once I see that, I walk away.


03 Jul 2011 
A hugely underrated apple: crisp, sweet, with a interesting hint of bitterness from the skin. Yes, I've had dull, mealy ones too, but I think that is almost always from mishandling and poor storage. It's not a coincidence that Red Delicious is a 'parent' variety of most of the apples that have been overtaking it in popularity lately, or that it was probably the single most popular red apple variety in the world for many years. I think that its recent decline in popularity has actually increased the general quality level of the apples on sale. Ones from Washington state are usually the best.


23 May 2011 
Red Delicious was responsible for getting me spanked as a kid. When I was maybe five years old (I'm now 20), my grandmother was trying to get me to eat one, and I literally could not chew the skin. I tried and tried, and I had to spit it out. She thought I was just being contrary and ultimately spanked me for spitting bits of apple all over the table. It wasn't until recently that I found out that I'm not the only one who finds the current Red "Delicious" gross and inedible. Take that, Grandma!


03 Mar 2011 
Reply to Mike, 29th November, re: finding Washington Red Delicious Apples. I'd like to know how your wife got on with the 'Red Chief' Apples, 4015. Waitrose used to sell the Washington Red.Del. apples too, but have now switched to an Italian Red.Del. which doesn't do the job at all. Seems the warehouse where the American apples first arrive had a fire early last year, hence the apples weren't available. Maybe the store has switched because the Italian apple is available. A pity as this had nothing to do with the American supplier. My empathies with your wife Mike. Best wishes - Marion


29 Nov 2010 
This is a reply to Marion's question dated 19th November. I have been searching for Red Delicious for ages - my wife needs them for the same reason you do! This morning we visited our local Asda store where we found Red Chief apples with the code number 4015 on the label. According to this very website, Red Chief is a "sport" (whatever that means!) of Red Delicious. According to an earlier contributor 4015 is the correct code. We bought a few to try. Hope this helps. Mike, Lowestoft, UK


20 Nov 2010 
Marion Rayner - try Empire, Spartan or McIntosh as substitutes for Red Delicious. Also consider Gala, which has both Red and Golden Delicious its ancestry.


19 Nov 2010 
I am desperate to find someone selling Washington Red Delicious apples in the UK, as they are the only natural remedy which can relieve my Oesophagus Reflux problem! Marks & Spencer usually carry them but out of season right now. Can anyone help? Many thanks - Marion


27 Oct 2010 
50 years ago, the Red Delicious apples available at the grocery store were sweet, crisp, and RIPE! Today, they are almost all metallic tasting, mealy, and GREEN!


13 Aug 2010 
People eat with their eyes and not their stomachs now days. I have some of the biggest and red-est Red delicious apples we planted about 3 years ago. We drive to Yakima Washington just about ever year to buy the old original Delicious apple from Johnson farms. This is the only place I have found them. I give lots of them away with my nice shinny reds that look good but taste like all reds today and the taste is BAD. After they bite into the old Delicious that I now call the standard Delicious they all say; where did you get those apples? Kevin HauserCALIFORNIA comment below tells of the color and the taste. I am 71 years old and grew up with the old Delicious apple and that is how it got its name as it was Delicious in taste. They don't last as long and the big chain stores wanted to make more money so they started making them red. Does anyone out there know where I can buy an original Delicious tree to plant? Please email me if you do.


12 Aug 2010 
today i made the mistake of buying the worst tasting apple gown in the usa. the label reads "red del" "usa". the growers should be ashamed to marked this imposter they call an apple. i will never be fooled again. beautiful but not delicious.


07 Aug 2010 
Right on, David C. G. of 10 Nov. 2007. The Red Declicious is a piece of beautacious, tasteless [tripe]. Fuji is the road you want to go down.


16 Jul 2010 
Being quite young and not a big apple eater in my early years I have only been eating apples regularly for 6 months now. I just bought some Red Delicious for the first time to try them, but after biting into them I had to look around on the internet to see if the bland taste and thick skin were normal, or if I just got a bad batch. Unfortunately this appears to be normal. It's as shame as they are quite large and inexpensive (and seem to not bruise as much, due to the thick skin im guessing), but it looks like I'll be going back to Jonagold and my other favorites.


10 Dec 2009 
My late husband planted an apple tree that produces an apple visually like the one described. However the flesh is pure white, crunchy, juicy and sweet. I would love to know what variety it is. It crops quite late in the season, probably late september/october - I usually have a load to apples for Halloween. Does anyone know what this apple is.


24 Nov 2009 
I had no idea that the Red Delicious apple is declining in popularity. In Maui it is still quite popular.(a lot of people like the fuji apple better though...)


17 Nov 2009 
I too am having great difficulty in purchasing this apple in England. It had been recommended for gastric reflux and I managed to buy two lots from my local Morrisons a couple of weeks ago but since ,then they have not had any and I have tried many other stores without success. If anyone can help on this I would be very grateful.


16 Nov 2009 
The apple the wicked witch gave to Snow White was probably a Red Delicious -- luscious on the outside, evil on the inside. Mealy, flavorless, leathery, messy -- but they look good and ship well, so for a while they had all but supplanted all of the real apples in the stores. Thank God that is changing, at long last.


01 Nov 2009 
This apple used to be wonderful when I was a kid about 20 years ago, and now it is RUINED. TI don't know if it is just me, but I remember Red Delicious as being a lighter shade of red and being very juicy with a good crunch-now it is just way, way too sweet and the skin, though beautiful, is like chewing on leather. This was an apple meant to be eaten out of hand but unfortunately it is not fit for that purpose anymore, which basically means you have an apple you can't bake with, can't make into juice, and can't eat out of hand. PS-I have a proposition: Red Delicious was born as a chance seedling. If anybody out there is interested, would it be worth it to see what happens if you plant a Delicious seed and see what happens? (I know, I know, apples do not grow true from seed, but with this variety it might be worth it to start all over again or try to replace this trainwreck.)


21 Sep 2009 
I always thought this apple was pithy and the best part tasteless until i encountered a couple of trees in an old lady's garden on Hayling Island. Unfortunately both she and the trees are now gone but luckily i manage to graft a bud onto a Bramley stock before the bulldozers moved in. Not entirely sure if this is the same variety but it looks and sounds identical to some of the descriptions on here - Yes the skin is tough but i have never encountered such a juicy, crisp, white fleshed apple in my life, gorgeous it is. Luckily this year my small tree produced 5 fruit and there is now enough growth for some more grafting to begin - hey ho.


23 Jul 2009 
ASDA in Bristol have them, I make a point of buying them alongside the other varities I buy. I love these apples!


20 May 2009 
The Red Delicious are crisp, juicy and sweet. However, I think they are being bred with very tough skins for better shipping. And the skins are really thicker than you would want to eat.


30 Apr 2009 
I remember about 40 years ago my Canadian uncle sent our family a crate of Red Delicious apples as a Christmas present. I can still remember the flavour and that they were indeed delicious! They are still among my favourite apples (next to Worcester Pearmain). I buy a supply every week from my local town market - they always seem to have them available. I also suffer from acid reflux and am pleased to hear about their medicinal properties - a good reason to eat more of them!


25 Apr 2009 
I can't believe people find them hard to locate in the Uk. I am UK based and I eat this variety all the time, they are my favourite apple. I get them from my local Morrisons supermarket but they seem readily available in local green grocers, though I have to say I havent seen them in either Tescos or ASDA. Here they go under the names of either Red Delicious or Washington and have the number 4015 on the label. When they are 'Fresh' they are sweet, crunchy and delcious but leave them too long at they go soft and pulply, if I could I would grow my own as I think they are fabulous.


11 Mar 2009 
Red Delicious is recommended for the treatment of Acid Reflux. Is this variety available in the UK, and if so where? If it is not available, what is the nearest British/European equivalent please?


25 Feb 2009 
When I was young - 40 years ago - the Red Delicious was a good apple. We got them at a local orchard, and they were my favorite apple at the time. However, they didn't have the solid red color or the thick skin. When the growers bred the apple for that, they killed the flavor. I haven't bought a Red Delicious in over a decade because you can no longer get one that tastes like a real Red Delicious should.


24 Nov 2008 
These apples are produced for a society of consumers who shop with their eyes, and not their noses, or taste buds. They're the world's most beautiful apples, and a celebrity of the apple world. However like many beautiful human celebrities they are totally lacking in substance. They are either mealy and flavorless, or have a bitter unripe taste. Their skin is too think and you're liable to hurt your gums biting into one.


13 Nov 2008 
Red Delicious is a sport of its superior parent, Delicious, also called Old Fashioned Delicious, Heritage Delicious, or Hawkeye. As is typical the original Delicious discovered in the late 1800's is not nearly as marketable, as it is not as well colored, being greenish-yellow with red stripes, but is infinately better flavored. I'll give samples in the fall to people who like it but cannot even guess that it is Delicous, as all they've ever had associated with that name were terrible. The difference between the two is so great that I would move to give them their own variety descriptions.


08 Oct 2008 
Heinous apple! Its skin is lovely, beyond that it is horrible! To my mind every time I have bitten into one the flavor always seemed "off" to me, with a nasty metallic undertone. The flesh also oxidizes too quickly. By the time you have completed eating your way around the circumference of the apple the flesh where you started is already visibly brown! It is famous as a poor apple for baking (tasteless), and because it browns so quickly it can't be sliced and served on a platter (as one might like to do along with a nice cheese). There are so many reasons to pass this one by!


20 Sep 2008 
It is the best apple. But this variety needs some special weather conditions to be so. I mean sun, water and relatively freshness. I grow a wide variety of red delicious spurs in mount Lebanon at elevations between 1450 and 1600m above see level and the taste is always GREAT.


17 Jun 2008 
The apple which is displayed is as beautiful as in my home garden, i like him much more than any other valuable thing. I like Apple's because i am also a fruit grower and especally Delicious apple's in my garden.


27 May 2008 
I always remember this apple from my childhood when it could be bought from a farm shop. I recently purchased from a super market and the taste was fantastic. The apple was so juicy and sweet, just as I remember. Unfortunately the apple seemed only to be available once, i can't find it to buy anywhere.


14 Apr 2008 
The red delicious looks really tempting, like a snow white apple. It a shame that its usually so soft and crumbly and sometimes even a bit bitter from the skin.


13 Feb 2008 
I once tasted a 'Texas Ugly.' When Red Delicious is grown in TX rather than Washington, the apples are entirely different--short, fat, and blotchy-multicolor. Without the high light and cool summers of WA, they don't take on the characteristic shape and color--but they do manage to have a better texture and flavor than the supermarket RD. Actually edible!


12 Feb 2008 
Our botany class does an apple tasting every semester. Red Delicious is what the students are most familiar with, but it always comes in dead last for taste once we get them to try any other variety.


19 Nov 2007 
The red Delicious apple used to be very sweet and smelled so good, I could identify this apple by smell. They have ruined this good apple. i don't buy them now.



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One of the most famous American apple varieties, a sport of Delicious, known for its bright red color.

Red Delicious phototape

Origins

  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Delicious
  • Originates from: United States
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1133

Identification

  • Fruit colour: Red

Using

  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Vitamin C content: Low

Growing

  • Cropping: Heavy
  • Flowering period: Mid-Late season
  • Flowering group: 4
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average growth

Climate

  • Climate suitability: Warm climates

Disease resistance

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

Relationships to other varieties

This variety is a sport (natural genetic mutation) of:

Offspring of this variety:

See also:

  • Golden Delicious - Golden Delicious and Red Delicious are not related, but are both commercially important varieties

Red Delicious identification photos from website visitors


Red Delicious
Red Delicious


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 Red Delicious 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

United Kingdom

Australia

New Zealand

India



Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2014 season

  • 25th May  2014  - tree owned by Mike in WESTFIELD, United States
  • 8th May  2014  - tree owned by Keith in RYE, United States

2013 season

  • 16th May  2013  - tree owned by Mike in WESTFIELD, United States
  • 8th May  2013  - tree owned by Jean in Martock, United Kingdom
  • 7th May  2013  - tree owned by Albany in CASTLETON, United States
  • 2nd April  2013  - tree owned by Gary in PLEASANT HILL, United States

2012 season

  • 16th April  2012  - tree owned by Gary in PLEASANT HILL, United States
  • 1st April  2012  - tree owned by Tony in GLOUCESTER, United States

2011 season

  • October  2011  - tree owned by Bek in LAUNCESTON, Australia
  • 7th April  2011  - tree owned by Vishal in SHIMLA, India

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

Latest harvest records for this variety

2014 season

    2013 season

    • October  2013  - tree owned by baker3@wildblue.net in THAWVILLE, United States
    • 3rd week April  2013  - tree owned by Katrina in NELSON, New Zealand

    2012 season

      2011 season

      • 2nd week August  2011  - tree owned by Vishal in SHIMLA, India
      • March  2011  - tree owned by Bek in LAUNCESTON, Australia

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