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Rubinette apple



Rubinette is a modern apple variety developed in Switzerland between 1964 and 1982, and also known and trademarked as Rafzubin.  It was raised by Walter Hauenstein, a grower from Rafz (hence 'Rafzubin') in the north of Switzerland.

Hauenstein's initial intention was to produce an improved Golden Delicious, retaining that variety's excellent production and storage characteristics whilst adding more depth of flavour by cross-pollinating it with varieties such as Cox's Orange Pippin.  However things did not go to plan - instead of an improved Golden Delicious, Hauenstein's new apple turned out to be something far more remarkable.

Rubinette is moderately good-looking, with characteristic orange and dull red streaks over a light green/yellow background.  The apples are generally small to medium-sized.  Overall the appearance is attractive but in a rather subdued sort of way.

There is also a natural red sport known as Red Rubinette or Rubinette Rosso which was discovered by Jochen Hubschneider.  The red coloration is still quite dull compared to most red apple varieties, even so it is a more pleasing apple than the original.

The parentage is Golden Delicious pollinated by (probably) Cox's Orange Pippin - a very popular combination with other growers over the years. 

The obvious comparison is with Freyberg, which has the same parents - Freyberg has a very different flavour and colour though, far closer to Golden Delicious, but the shape is similar to Rubinette.

Rubinette is unfortunately not easy to grow.  Like Cox it is prone to the apple disease scab.  Mild attacks do not affect the flavour but make the apples rather unsightly and this limits its commercial appeal.  The trees are quite weak and slow growing which does not help (vigorous varieties can sometimes throw off disease and pest attacks more readily).  One thing we have noticed is that the Rubinette Rosso variant seems less affected by scab, and the apples have a cleaner appearance.

The apples also tend to be very small, although the size can improve as the tree gets older - and as noted below, ruthless thinning in late spring will increase the size of the remaining fruits.  These horticultural difficulties mean that Rubinette is not widely grown - it is grown commercially on a small scale in Europe and a few North American growers have also taken it up.  As a result, it is difficult (but not impossible) to find Rubinette apples on sale.

Growing your own tree may therefore be the best option, albeit a frustrating experience in some years.  Although developed (like most modern varieties) to work with the popular commercial dwarf M9 rootstock, for garden use, we recommend you try the more vigorous MM106 rootstock.  This rootstock suits the weak growth habit better, and also gives you more training opportunities - including espalier forms, which can be easier to monitor in a garden environment for the inevitable scab, mildew, and aphid attacks, as well as giving potentially better fruit quality.  We have also heard some unsubstantiated reports that fruit size is better on MM106 for this variety (for most varieties M9 gives larger fruit size than MM106).  Rubinette really benefits from a spray programme (conventional or organic) and if you go the un-treated route then you are going to have to accept lesser quality - although it is worth persevering (our own Rubinette trees are un-treated).

There is some good news though: whilst it is quite difficult to grow clean examples, we have almost never had a bad Rubinette - so if you can get the tree to actually produce a crop, you can rely on the flavour to be consistent.  This is not like Cox, where the flavour can vary considerably from year to year.  Another point in its favour is that Rubinette has a wider climate range than Cox's Orange Pippin, and is therefore a better choice for gardeners in much of the USA where summer temperatures are too high for Cox.

We have received some horticultural information from Promo-Fruit, the originators of Rubinette (see www.promo-fruit.ch).  They recommend that it is important to ensure that the fruit is heavily thinned.  Allow no more than 1 fruit per set of blossoms, and make sure you remove the central fruit in the cluster (which tends to be the biggest, known as the 'king' fruit).  From our own experience we think this is good advice - be ruthless with the thinning, and you will be rewarded with at least a few apples of good medium size.  If you don't thin, the apples will be too small.

So, a moderately attractive small apple that is not that particularly easy to grow and needs a lot of thinning ... why bother?  Well, very simply, this apple has a superb flavour.  Regardless of the contribution from Golden Delicious, there is no doubt that Rubinette is a Cox-style apple through and through.  It is intense and honeyed, with echoes of pear-drops, simultaneously sweet and sharp. Of all the Cox offspring, Rubinette surely gets closest to having that elusive greatness - and many would argue it is even better than Cox.  Interestingly, although the addition of the sweetness of Golden Delicious might be expected to make Rubinette sweeter than Cox, somehow this has not happened, and if anything Rubinette is slightly sharper than Cox - but the sweetness from the Golden Delicious gives a richness to the sharpness.  We have speculated that perhaps it is the rich influence of the parent of Golden Delicious - Grimes Golden - that has somehow been carried over into Rubinette.  Whatever the cause, the balance of sweet and sharp in Rubinette is probably the best of any apple variety.

Description by: .    Last updated 23 Sep 2013.

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Current rating: 4.8 out of 5. Total votes cast: 5
 

Visitor comments

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

16 Jun 2014 
Best apple I've ever eaten. I discovered then at the Queener Fruit Farm in Scio, Oregon, and we ended up going back 3x last year to buy more (by the bushel). The flavor and juiciness are amazing. We are going to plant 5 trees of our own this year. I'm sorry to hear that this variety is difficult to grow, but I'll be happy to eat whatever I can get. It will be worth any amount of trouble. I thought the small size was elegant.


17 Nov 2013 
What a disaster. As another said 'But not a good grower, prone to scab, canker, never looks very healthy and mostly small fruit'. Lousy for two years after purchase. All fruit badly affected. Embarrassed for of all the apples I could buy, I buy this one as the marketing says best apple in the world.


17 Aug 2013 
I have two trees on m27 root stock in fourth year produced about 12 apples last year. I may have picked early but they were very good even after a very hot year .


16 Apr 2011 
You say that it is surprising that Switzerland should produce a variety of apple, but this country produces more apples the the whole of the UK with only a tiny fraction of the area of fertile land. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_apple_production


08 Oct 2010 
I picked a bushel of these at a local orchard the other day (sorry, Charles from Portland, rubinettes are grown in Washington), and I'm in the process of making some of them into applesauce. These are by far the tastiest apple variety I've tried in a long time. I'm already planning on returning to the same orchard next fall to get some more rubinettes, and I'll be looking for them at farmers' markets over the next few weeks.


28 Oct 2009 
I really don't care for the Granny Smith. This variety tastes only sour to me. In the US people always seem to swoon about Granny Smiths and how good they are in apple pies. I think Braeburns are much more flavorful both for eating and baking. I really like Pink Ladys also, but Rubinettes are, by far, the tastiest apples I have ever eaten.


28 Oct 2009 
Tried these for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I can only say this is the most delicious apple I have had in years. Has anyone tried baking them in a pie?


17 Oct 2009 
We have just returned from an apple festival in Leominster. Amongst the 100's of apples on display was the magnificent rubinette. Crisp-juicy-flavoursome-tart-most tasty apple we have had for years. small but mouthwatering


26 Oct 2008 
Tried these for the first time today, in the absence of Honeycrisp, picked up a 5 kg bag of Rubinettes at Krewelshof in Lohmar (near Cologne/Bonn). Delicious!


24 Oct 2008 
Found some of these today at the Union Square Greenmarket. Didn't notice the name of the vendor, but believe me I'm going to look for him again! What a wonderful little apple! Tender-crisp, juicy and sweet, and just enough tartness (without being "sour") to make for a perky mid-day snack. I will be back for more; the vendor said he doesn't have these for long, so I'm going to have to hurry!


11 Apr 2008 
Rubinette did well in our low-chill, hot inland valley in a warm climate in Southern California. Extreme summer heat did not bother it and the flavor and crunch were outstanding. There is no disease here, so that was not a problem and it bore early and heavily. It may be one of the best Cox crosses for our area, much better than Freyberg.


01 Mar 2008 
I bought some Rubinette at a local supermarket on the reduced counter, they were the best apples I have eaten, after asking for them again I was told that they dont stock them , just sometimes a box comes in to be sold as secounds. I have been asking for them everywhere i go with no sucsess


23 Nov 2007 
Bought some today (23.11.07), grown locally at Coussay les Bois, and thought they might be local French variety, hence went online to check after tasting. Bought because of Cox like appearance, although our specimens are of medium size, larger than what is often available in England under the name of Cox. This apple is a revelation and to eat is superior to all but the very best, appropriately ripened Cox. We think your description of the eating quality - its balance of sweetness and sharpness - is spot on for the specimens we bought. We would add that the texture though crisp is less firm. We think that as a result it would very much appeal to childrenl. We'll be buying again and certainly more to take home to UK.


09 Nov 2007 
We bought some from RHS Wisley today, and I thought they could have been mislabled Cox's until I read your piece. They were not small though - getting on for medium sized. They were as you describe to eat, and even better cooked. The flavour improved and they kept their shape well with a lovely yellow-green colour.


21 Oct 2007 
We just discovered this variety through a local market, and apparently they are one of the few varieties being grown exclusively in Oregon (as opposed to the many grown to the north in Washington State). Very tasty and a good eating apple.


18 Oct 2007 
We have 15 of these trees on our orchard. Undoubtably the best tasting variety we grow - cox like with greater acidity. At its best in November. But not a good grower, prone to scab, canker, never looks very healthy and mostly small fruit.


08 Oct 2007 
Four of us went to the Open Day at Keepers Nursery in Kent yesterday, and spent a couple of hours tasting a huge variety of apples, and we all kept coming back to Rubinette. The blend of sharpness and sweetness, the crispness and juiciness, and the thin skin all contributed to to our choice. The smallish size and Cox-like appearance are advantages as well.


03 Aug 2007 
You don't mention the marvelously crisp texture of this variety. I served these whole, for dessert after quite a formal dinner last night, and people raved about them. In this context, the small size is a positive attribute.



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Probably the best-tasting apple in the world.

Rubinette phototape

Origins

  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Golden Delicious x Cox's Orange Pippin
  • Originates from: Rafz (north of Zurich), Switzerland
  • Introduced: 1964
  • Developed by: Walter Hauenstein
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1053

Identification

  • Fruit colour: Red / Orange flush
  • Flesh colour: White
  • Flesh colour: White to Cream, pale yellow
  • Fruit size: Small
  • Bultitude apple group: 7. Flushed / striped, some russeting, sweet

Using

  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Juice
  • Flavour quality: Exceptional
  • Flavour style: Aromatic
  • Harvest period: Late season
  • Use / keeping: 1-2 months
  • Vitamin C content: Low

Growing

  • Cropping: Light
  • Flowering period: Mid season
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Gardening skill: Some skill needed
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
  • General disease resistance: Poor
  • Period of origin: 1950 - 1999

Climate

  • Blossom frost-resistance: Good resistance

Disease resistance

  • Scab  - Some susceptibility
  • Mildew  - Some susceptibility

Relationships to other varieties

Parents and other ancestors of this variety:

Sports (natural genetic mutations) of this variety:

Siblings of this variety (same parentage):

  • Freyberg - Freyberg takes after Golden Delicious, whereas Rubinette takes after Cox

Rubinette identification photos from website visitors


Rubinette Rosso, showing the redder coloration of this sport
Rubinette Rosso, showing the redder coloration of this sport

Rubinette Rosso, with the redder coloration not that apparent
Rubinette Rosso, with the redder coloration not that apparent

A fairly clean Rubinette apple growing on an espalier MM106
A fairly clean Rubinette apple growing on an espalier MM106

A typical weak-growing mature Rubinette tree on M9 rootstock (this is the Rosso sport)
A typical weak-growing mature Rubinette tree on M9 rootstock (this is the Rosso sport)


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 Rubinette 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



Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2014 season

  • 17th May  2014  - tree owned by Jim in HALLSTEAD, United States

2013 season

  • 11th May  2013  - tree owned by Jim in HALLSTEAD, United States
  • 9th May  2013  - tree owned by Alfredo in STOCKTON, United States

2012 season

  • 11th May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
  • April  2012  - tree owned by Ray in MIDDLETOWN, United States

2011 season

  • 13th April  2011  - tree owned by Graham in HOTHFIELD, United Kingdom

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

Latest harvest records for this variety

2014 season

    2013 season

      2012 season

      • 3rd week September  2012  - tree owned by Dan in CAMANO ISLAND, United States
      • September  2012  - tree owned by Andrew in EASTLEIGH, United Kingdom

      2011 season

        Where to buy apple trees

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

        Where to buy apples

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