Top 10 dessert apple varieties for flavour
Our personal choice of the top 10 dessert apple varieties, ranked by flavour
Flavour is a very personal thing, and the flavour of apples can vary from orchard to orchard, even from tree to tree, as well as from year to year dependent on the weather. However there are certain characteristics that mark out a good dessert apple, most critical being the depth of flavour, and the harmony between sweetness and sharpness. Here is our top 10 apple varieties for flavour - do you agree ? Use our contact form to send your own nominations and reasons.
Cox's Orange Pippin
Others may come close (notably some of its own offspring), but in a good season and from a good orchard Cox's Orange Pippin is still un-beaten. Although introduced more than 150 years ago, the remarkable flavour of Cox has still not been surpassed, and it remains the benchmark against which all other apple varieties are measured. It is no surprise that many of the other apple varieties in this list are offspring of Cox's Orange Pippin. Unfortunately supermarket imports from New Zealand and Europe are often harvested too early and you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Cox seems to need the marginal English climate to achieve its best - look for tree-ripened apples in late September and eat them straightaway.
Kidd's Orange Red
Marries Cox's Orange Pippin with the sweet scented flavour of Delicious from the USA, sweeter and richer than Cox but still tremendous depth of flavour in a good example, and far easier to grow in the garden.
An outstanding Cox-style apple from Switzerland, with probably the most perfect balance of sweet and sharp of any apple. An essential experience for anyone who appreciates apples.
The first variety on our list which is not related to Cox's Orange Pippin - this an altogether different kind of flavour, very intense, with a sharp kick which will give you goose-bumps, but still a hint of rich sweetness too.
Distantly related to both Golden Delicious and Cox's Orange Pippin, we think this is the best modern supermarket apple. It's beautifully juicy, with a dense flesh, and a strong sweet-sharp peardrop flavour - and unlike many of the other varieties here, the flavour is consistent and reliable.
A classic American heritage apple variety, with the spicy aromatic flavors more commonly associated with European apples.
A modern take on the classic Egremont Russet, keeps the sweetness but has a slightly richer more aromatic flavour and slightly less russeting.
Norfolk Royal Russet
Another russet-style apple, with a sweet pear-like flavour, very satisfying to eat, and also one of the most attractive apples for the fruit bowl.
A completely different taste experience, crisp, juicy, sweet with little acidity, not a lot of depth, but a distinctive wine-like flavour - perhaps a lightweight compared to many others here, but simply a very nice apple. Also widely available, and very easy to grow yourself.
The first supermarket apple with real flavour potential, just makes it on to our list - but quality is highly variable, try to find premium tree-ripened examples to see how good this apple can be.
Do you agree or disagree with our top 10 ? Please send your own nominations and reasons to us - email.
Our top 10 apples are rated purely on flavour. They are not necessarily the best ones to grow - see our list of apple varieties for the garden.