All about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and orchards where they are grown

Braeburn apple

Braeburn is one of the most important commercial apple varieties.  It originated in New Zealand in the 1950s, and by the last decades of the 20th century had been planted in all the major warm apple-growing regions of the world.  Braeburn accounts for 40% of the entire apple production of New Zealand.  Even in conservative Washington state, the most important apple-producing area of the USA, where Red Delicious and Golden Delicious have always held sway, Braeburn is now in the top 5 varieties produced.

The reasons for this success are not difficult to pinpoint.  Braeburn has all the necessary criteria for large-scale production: it is fairly easy to grow, produces heavily and early in the life of the tree, it stores well, and withstands the handling demands of international supply chains.  What marks it out from the competition is flavour.  Braeburn was the first modern apple variety in large-scale production where the flavour was genuinely on a par with the older classic apple varieties.  Braeburn's depth of flavour makes its main competition - Red Delicious and Golden Delicious - seem one-dimensional in comparison.  At a time when consumers were starting to look for something less bland in their weekly shopping, Braeburn was the right apple at the right time.

The commercial success of Braeburn has opened the way for the development of many new apple varieties where flavour is now one of the main selection criteria.  Braeburn was one of the first "bi-coloured" varieties, a characteristic now regarded as essential for sales success.  In comparison the first wave of supermarket apple varieties were either bright red (Red Delicious) or shades of solid green (Golden Delicious and Granny Smith).

This combination of modern colouring and flavour means that Braeburn was effectively the first of the new-wave of modern apple varieties.

The first Braeburn tree was discovered growing in New Zealand in the 1950s, and is named after Braeburn Orchards, where it was first grown commercially.  It is generally thought to be a seedling of a variety called Lady Hamilton.   The other parent is not known, but is popularly believed to be Granny Smith - quite possible given the time and location of its discovery, but there seems to be no scientific evidence to confirm this theory.

When conditions are right there is no doubt that Braeburn is a first-class dessert apple.  It easily outstrips its late 20th century peer group (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Red Delicious) with a richness and complexity of flavour that they cannot match.  In fact in many ways Braeburn is now the benchmark apple variety against which all other commercial varieties should be ranked.  It is crisp, without being hard, and very juicy. It snaps cleanly to the bite, and there is an immediate rush of strong apple flavours.  The overall flavour is sharp and refreshing but with a good balance of sweetness - and never sugary.  There is occasionally a hint of pear-drops to the flavour of a new-season Braeburn (a characteristic which is more prominent in its offspring Jazz).  Braeburn is at its best when cooled slightly below room temperature, and if you get a good one it really reminds you why you like eating apples.

If there is a downside to Braeburn, it is probably poor quality control.  Braeburn is grown throughout the warm apple-growing regions of the world, and it also keeps well in storage.  As a result there can be quite a variation in quality and flavour of Braeburn apples reaching the consumer from different countries and at different times of the year.  Since Braeburn is too old to be trade-marked, there is little control over the "brand" - quite a contrast with the rigourously-controlled production of Pink Lady for example.  Of the southern hemisphere producers, we think Braeburns from Chile are often good - at their best in June.  Braeburn is also widely grown in Europe, and France seems to have the best climate for producing good ones - try them in November.

A number of sports of the original Braeburn have been developed, including: Hidala, Mahana Red, Royal Braeburn, Hillwell, and Southern Rose.

Braeburn's other weakness is that whilst it is not difficult to grow, it is difficult to grow in an organic regime - although this is also true of most of its competitors.  Apple varieties which have been developed for disease resistance and therefore more amenable to organic production such as Topaz - in many ways quite similar to Braeburn - have not achieved the same commercial success.

Braeburn stores very well, and apples for cold store are generally picked whilst still slightly immature.  Whilst some apples improve in store, Braeburn is arguably at its best soon after picking.  Some growers and supermarkets offer premium tree-ripened Braeburns from time to time and these are worth trying.  They are likely to have more red and less green colouring than conventionally stored apples.

Braeburn is grown commercially in the southern UK, but it really needs a warmer climate and longer growing-season than is usually possible here.  According to UK government DEFRA statistics, in July 1994 there were about 194 hectares of Braeburn orchards in the UK - compared with 669 hectares for Gala and more than 3,000 hectares for Cox.  Even early varieties with little shelf-life such as Discovery (300 hectares) and Worcester Pearmain (213 hectares) are grown more extensively than Braeburn.  Whilst UK supermarkets are under some pressure to source apples from within the UK, it is perhaps questionable whether growing varieties like Braeburn, which are not really suited to the UK climate, is the best solution.  However, to partly contradict this view, another view is that the marginal UK climate can actually produce better flavour in an apple compared to ones grown in more temperate European climates (notably France or Italy).  On balance we think the main problem with UK-grown Braeburn is not so much the lack of sunlight, but the shorter growing season.

Braeburn is a relatively easy variety for the backyard orchardist.  It likes a warm but not hot climate.  It can be grown successfully in the southern UK, and most parts of the USA.

In the 21st century Braeburn faces competition as supermarkets start to offer a much wider choice of apple varieties - not least from one of its own offspring, Jazz (a cross between Braeburn with pollen from Gala).  Compared to the last decades of the 20th century when just a few apple varieties dominated world production, the market is now much more diverse.  However when properly grown and marketed Braeburn is such a good apple variety that it is likely to remain one of the leading varieties for many years to come.

Braeburn identification images

ARS GRIN
©Copyright ARS GRIN

USDA identification images for Braeburn

The identification paintings in the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection span the years 1886 to 1942.


    Citation: U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.

    Offspring of this variety


    Visitor reviews

    • 29 Oct 2020  MADRID, Spain
      I'm a Braeburn fanatic. I didn't eat apples until I tasted a Braeburn in the UK a few years ago. Unfortunately here in Spain Braeburn apples are not very common in the supermarkets. So I buy Granny Smith. I really don't like any others, especially the now ubiquitous Royal Gala. So mushy and sweet.
    • 28 Aug 2020  ENGLAND, United Kingdom
      The only variety of apple that I will eat now. It tastes very sweet and crunchy. If they hadn't bred the Braeburn apple, I probably wouldn't eat apples
    • 06 Jul 2020  LONDON, United Kingdom
      I will only eat Braeburn apples. Nothing else. Braeburns are slightly tangy, not too sweet, fresh and crunchy. I tried a Pink Lady recently, because they're being pushed so much, and I was horrified by how sickly-sweet they are. Like sugar.
    • 24 Feb 2020  CALIFORNIA, United States
      Really good with cheddar cheese!! So delicious
    • 05 Sep 2018  ME, United States
      Very good. Crisp and juicy.
    • 18 Jul 2018  CA, United States
      I just taste-tested a Braeburn against a Pink Lady. First, Pink Lady is a solidly good apple, but not my favorite. I use it as a benchmark because it’s reliable, good in all categories I test, and available most of the time in my area. Second, I taste each apple plain/raw, plain/cooked, raw with cinnamon, and cooked with salt and brown sugar. These are just my personal ways of eating apples, so goodness in these categories works for me. Third, I like fruit to have a characteristic scent. An apple should smell like an apple! Okay, so Braeburn: Fresh and raw, it is nice. Has a nice, yielding crunch, and is sweet. I would call it subacid. Cooked, it is disappointing. It has an odd smell, and tastes kind of like a cactus. It retains its sweetness, but loses all subtlety. The raw form is decent with cinnamon, but kind of not strong enough to balance cinnamon’s intensity out. Cooking with salt and sugar did not improve it much, and that is a difficult achievement. I would not waste space in my garden for this one when I could grow Honeycrisps and Newton Pippins.
    • 30 Jan 2017  PA, United States
      Braeburn is an absolute winner in my book and the organic ones provided by my East End Food Co-op this year were (and are) spectacular. For enjoyable eating they are hard to beat: fine texture, thin skin, wonderful sweet/tart flavor with some sort of aromatic nuance that is enchanting. One of a very small list of apples that approach perfection for me.
    • 26 Apr 2015  WA, United States
      Good flavor, crispy, sweet and tart, doesn't brown fast.
    • 27 Jun 2014  KUALA LUMPUR, Indonesia
      The only kind of apple I eat anymore, ever since I first picked some up from a supermarket in Europe a few years ago. My conversion was instant, I'd never tasted more enticingly fragrant and complex flavours :)
    • 08 Feb 2014  CO, United States
      Can't go wrong with Braeburns when Honeycrisps get too expensive during the winter months. They're cheap, but that shouldn't scare away apple lovers. The vast majority of Braeburns I've had retain their crisp and juicy crunch. They're still better than a lot of the newer "designer" cultivars, like the Envy, and a heckuva lot cheaper.
    • 04 Apr 2013  MINNESOTA, United States
      I first discovered Breaburn apples about 20 years ago at Cub Foods. At that time all of this variety were from New Zealand and quite good. Three or four years ago I bought some that were grown here in the USA and they were not as good. So now if I was a Braeburn I look for the New Zealand stickers.
    • 03 Mar 2013  WA, United States
      Just way too hit or miss for my tastes. I've had great ones, but I've always had many, many horrible ones that I couldn't come close to finishing. Give me the reliable excellence of a Honey Crisp any day of the week.
    • 04 Oct 2012  WASHINGTON, United States
      I am a Braeburn apple fanatic and reading this page was like finding a gold mine. I'm from the Pacific northwest and while all my friends are ranting and raving about Honeycrisp apples, I continue to defend why Braeburns are superior. Seriously, people don't try tons of varieties here, they just dash for the apples with the most appealing name.
    • 13 Apr 2012  HANTS, United Kingdom
      Alasdair, you won't be able to grow a true apple from seed. All apples are grafted onto a rootstock. You will be very dissapointed if you are hoping to grow an apple from a pip! Naimh, I have just bought a Braeburn in the LIDL shop, they have lots of fruit trees for £10a at this time of year, but you have to be quick, they sell out fast!
    • 08 Feb 2012  GEORGIA, United States
      Very sweet and juicy. Delicious!
    • 02 Dec 2011  TN, United States
      I was thrilled to see this variety at my local grocers this season. However, the first Braeburn I bought was rotten when I cut into it - with no outside hints to that fact. I was disappointed, but picked up another one on my next trip. At the store, I noticed there were green/yellow/red Braeburns and also dominantly dark red ones. I tried to do a quick search on my phone to see which I should get. I ended up picking out a dark red one as I tend to favor red apples. I was so disappointed in this apple! I had high expectations since it's in the top ten varieties on this site - which I love. It turned out to be too hard, bland, and somewhat chalky (?). Not a pleasant apple at all! I almost threw it out, but didn't want to waste nutrition. I will not be eating one of these again. My least favorite apple. My favorite apples are MacIntosh and Honeycrisp, so if those aren't to your liking, maybe you will like this apple.
    • 19 Jan 2011  CA, United States
      I only buy Braeburn apples imported from New Zealand. After several years of trying, it is obvious the apple growers in the United States just can't do it right.
    • 26 Aug 2010  SOMERSET, United Kingdom
      I hope Audrey Landis also of Somerset (but on the other side of the pond) or anyone else who eats any apple before bedtime, cleans their teeth afterwards as apple acid is very corrosive to teeth. Sorry to sound like a killjoy, though Braeburns are lovely apples
    • 05 Apr 2010  ARGYLL AND BUTE, United Kingdom
      I have just planted braeburn seeds before reading the information on the page. Unfortunately, I live on the Isle Of Islay where there's more rain than sunshine. What do I do?
    • 04 Jan 2010  CANTERBURY, New Zealand
      The Braeburn is available here in New Zealand all year round due to the fact that it is held in Atmosphere Controlled conditions. Most people will know that it is one of the top supermarket brands due to the fact that it looks good and has a tough skin that does not damage easily besides being crisp and juicy. The effect that the storage has on the Braeburn is that the core of the apple often goes brown but surprisingly they still stay crisp and juicy. With regards to eating it out of season I only eat the outer most surface before getting to the discoloured section before binning it. Still not bad eating in the middle of winter. Looking forward of course to picking mine however fresh from the tree.
    • 01 Nov 2009  IRELAND, Ireland
      How come I can never find UK grown Braeburns in Ireland?
    • 31 Oct 2009  FELIXSTOWE SUFF, United Kingdom
      have just harvested over 8kg of braeburn apples from my minarette tree this is the third year of planting so i am well pleased they are large fruit and live up to flavour and crispness
    • 02 Jun 2009  Herts, United Kingdom
      Throughout this winter I could buy from my local Asda supermarket ripe Braeburns from France weighing 16ounces each with stunning complex flavours. Any Jap would be proud to give them as a present. Now they are stocking unripe refrigerated Braeburns half the size from New Zealand which taste like mud.
    • 30 Oct 2008  LONDON, United Kingdom
      Sundowner from Australia is even better than Braeburn. A new variety - sweet and crisp. Just the best and I have substituted it for my old favourite - the Braeburn.
    • 14 Oct 2008  KENT ENGLAND, United Kingdom
      We have grown braeburn in Uk commercially for 10yrs now. there will be approx 10,000 tonnes harvested this year and will be available in all good multiples. we thought that it maybe a battle to grow in UK but this has not been the case. Colour is the best in the world due to large day/night temperature differentials. Flavour is superior to hotter climates due to a good balance betqween sugar and acid. We also grow a Gala x Braeburn called Kanzi. It has characteristics of both varieties with a superb fizzy taste and deep pink colour. Fruit is very uniform in shape. Look at Kanziapple.com
    • 07 Oct 2008  PONTYPOOL, SOUTH WALES,UK, United Kingdom
      WHAT AN APPLE, LOVED IT SO MUCH I PLANTED MY OWN TREE 6 YEARS AGO JUST INCASE ASDA STOP SELLING THEM.
    • 31 Aug 2008  FIFE, SCOTLAND, United Kingdom
      Im in the process of making 2kgs of Braeburns into 2 gallons of Braeburn Apple wine...yum!
    • 27 Aug 2008  BRISNEYLAND OZ, Australia
      To Tina in Perth, They are in Coles on the East Coast at the moment. I started eating them in Canada in the 1990's and no other apples has passed my lips since then.
    • 19 Aug 2008  SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, United States
      I was introduced to the Braeburn about 2 years ago when I was quite ill, and craving apples. I have not eaten thing else since (apple-wise!). Truly the best apple ever! The only down side is that they are so popular, I can not find them right now!
    • 24 Jul 2008  SOUTH WALES UK., United Kingdom
      braeburn is my favourite new tree this year, five large apples now late july, cant wait to try them. my very own apples.
    • 20 Apr 2008  SOMERSET,PA, United States
      I always bought Galas until I tasted Braeburn I do not think I will buy them anymore. My favorite now,is a Braeburn.I just love them they are so firm and crispy.It is a great diet snack apple just having one and a tall glass of skim milk satisfies you until the next meal.And if you are hungary before bed a nice warm glass of skim milk and a Braeburn is better for the stomach than a heavy snack and you feel relaxed and sleep better.
    • 23 Mar 2008  MISSISSIPPI, United States
      This has got to be the BEST apple I have ever put in my mouth!!!!! I don't even like apples, and I am eating 1 - 2 of these a day! Love Them, Love Them, Love Them!
    • 07 Mar 2008  NORTHUMBERLAND, United Kingdom
      I have a six year old tree in the back garden,well sheltered. Superb crop in 2007. Best apple of the lot. Suffers from a heavy June drop but harvested well over 20 kilos of mature apples.
    • 05 Mar 2008  FLORIDA, United States
      Since trying a Honeycrisp apple I have been unable to enjoy almost any other apple. I just ate a Braeburn and although the flavor was nice, the texture was very pasty, what other apples can give me the crunch and crispy tartness of the Honeycrisp?
    • 29 Feb 2008  Cyprus
      I love braeburn apples but I cant get them so far here in Cyprus, do you know of a local source or importer?
    • 25 Feb 2008  LONDON, United Kingdom
      FAB. great info.
    • 16 Feb 2008  PERTH,, Australia
      Anyone know if Braeburns are available Western Australia?
    • 22 Jan 2008  EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, United Kingdom
      This is my favourite apple
    • 14 Jan 2008  United States
      WOW! the best
    • 08 Jan 2008  United Kingdom
      I discovered Braeburn apples in my local supermarket two months ago. Simply the best
    • 05 Jan 2008  INDIANA, United States
      I, too, am eating a Braeburn apple as I read this information. We bought some from a local orchard and I've discovered I like them lots. Seldom do I crave an apple, but this one I do. I didn't even want to mess it up with our homemade caramel dip.
    • 05 Nov 2007  ROCHESTER, NY, United States
      I have a Braeburn in my home orchard that is just coming into production. I understand that they are iffy in my climate zone because they need a longer season to mature fully. It is now November 4, and the Braeburns that are still on the tree seem small and slightly underripe. They are edible, but only of fair quality, and their skin is a litlle on the tough side. On the whole this summer has been ideal for apples, and my Spigolds were as big as grapefruits. My red delicious were large, beautiful and tasteless, so I cut down the tree to make room for another variety. I have been thinking of Sonya, but they may be more suitable for the northwest. Any thoughts of Sonya in chilly upstate NY?
    • 05 Oct 2007  FAIRFIELD, CA, United States
      Just came across this apple today. I would like to know how it would hold up to making apple sauce? I make alot and freeze it for the winter? Can someone tell me if this is a good apple for this. I am always looking for new apples to play around with, when it comes to cooking. Thanks, nancy
    • 19 Sep 2007  OJAI, CALIFORNIA, United States
      James Weblemoe, one of St. Joseph's residents told me to his pick all the apples from a tree in a house he was selling. I think it is a Braeburn apple. The tree was in the yard when he bought the house 35 years ago. Ojai has some frost. Generally, it has hot inland valley climate.
    • 12 Sep 2007  United States
      Your information about the lack of quality control was very helpful. I've been wondering for a long time why I haven't been able to find the same great taste that I had come to love. Now I only buy if I can try first. What sources would you recommend to grocers.
    • 03 Aug 2007  United Kingdom
      This is the best apple out there. I have been eating them for quite sometime. I won't eat anything else. If there aren't any braeburn apples I won't buy any other kind. The description is right on sweet-tart and hard and crisp are all perfect to describe this apple. YUMMY!!!!!!!!!
    • 03 Aug 2007  United Kingdom
      I too have recently discovered the Braeburn apples. And they are absolutely delicous. The ones that I purchased came from Chile. Wonderful crisp flavor. They now top my list of favorite eating apples.
    • 03 Aug 2007  United Kingdom
      I just tasted my first Braeburn a couple weeks ago. I have been buying them ever since and eating one daily. They have replaced my favorite Granny Smith. They are so delicious! I wish I could grow them myself.
    • 03 Aug 2007  United Kingdom
      I'm eating two Braeburn apples a day and just love them! They are so juicy and tasty, when I bite in one the juice hits my palate. I wonder if I could use them in an apple pie, must try sometime!
    • 03 Aug 2007  United States
      Braeburn apple is a new discovery for me and is very comparable with the Macoun when at their best. My favorite!!!
    • 03 Aug 2007  United Kingdom
      Absolutely agree! I was eating a Braburn apple while reading your very informative article. I have been an avid fan of the Granny Smith apple but ran into this apple and could definitely taste the granny smith and pear type flavour that you referred to. It is definitely the best apple I have had in a while. This apple is very versitile--eating it and/or baking with it would provide the best results for any chef! Thanks for the info!
    • 03 Aug 2007  United Kingdom
      The hard to come by sweet juicy Washington Apple has been replaced by the Braeburn Apple in my shopping cart. Sweet, the right amount of tart, crispness - but unfortunately bruised or old most of the time. Once I find a good batch, I over indulge. yum.

    Tree register

    United States

    United Kingdom

    France

    Ireland

    • Keith in Templeogue, DUBLIN
    • Matt in Salthill, GALWAY

    Italy

    Spain

    Canada

    Australia

    • Hayden in Winslow, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
    • Warren in Cobram, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

    New Zealand

    India

    Croatia

    Spring blossom records for this variety

    2019 season

    • 28th April  2019  - tree owned by Ryan in Vineyard, United States
    • 30th March  2019  - tree owned by Sam in Woodland, United States

    2016 season

    • 1st May  2016  - tree owned by Matt in Salthill, Ireland

    2014 season

    • 12th May  2014  - tree owned by Dennis in Great Meadows, United States
    • 12th May  2014  - tree owned by Mark in Leyburn, United Kingdom
    • 20th April  2014  - tree owned by Peter in Johnson City, United States
    • March  2014  - tree owned by Simon in Sant Miquel De Fluvia, Spain

    2013 season

    • 11th May  2013  - tree owned by Alan in Chippenham, United Kingdom

    2012 season

    • 20th May  2012  - tree owned by Peter in Eye, United Kingdom
    • 9th May  2012  - tree owned by James in Estacada, United States
    • 2nd May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
    • 20th March  2012  - tree owned by Steven in Lubersac, France

    2011 season

    • 15th May  2011  - tree owned by David in Kennesaw, United States
    • 23rd April  2011  - tree owned by Andy in , United Kingdom
    • 13th April  2011  - tree owned by Alan in Chippenham, United Kingdom
    • 12th April  2011  - tree owned by Robin in Edlington, United Kingdom

    2010 season

    • September  2010  - tree owned by Mark in Rangiora, New Zealand
    • May  2010  - tree owned by L in Epsom, United Kingdom
    • April  2010  - tree owned by Lesley in Saltcoats, United Kingdom

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


    Harvest records for this variety

    2018 season

    • September  2018  - tree owned by Ann in Nottingham, United Kingdom

    2016 season

    • November  2016  - tree owned by Elaine in Mold, United Kingdom

    2012 season

    • 2nd week December  2012  - tree owned by James in Estacada, United States
    • 3rd week August  2012  - tree owned by Christy in Delaware, United States

    2011 season

    • 4th week October  2011  - tree owned by Jennifer in Eureka, United States

    2010 season

    • 1st week November  2010  - tree owned by Lesley in Saltcoats, United Kingdom
    • 2nd week October  2010  - tree owned by Richard in Chelmsford, United Kingdom
    • August  2010  - tree owned by Hazel in Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom

    2009 season

    • October  2009  - tree owned by Karen in Maple Valley, United States
    • August  2009  - tree owned by Hazel in Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom

    Origins

    • Species: Malus domestica
    • Parentage: Lady Hamilton x Unknown
    • Introduced: 1950

    Using

    • Picking season: Very late late October / early November
    • Cropping: Good
    • Keeping (of fruit): 3 months or more
    • Flavor style (apples): Aromatic
    • Food uses: Eating fresh
    • Discoloration of fruit: Oxidising

    Growing

    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Flowering group: 4
    • Bearing regularity: Regular

    Climate

    • Cold hardiness (USDA): (6) -10F / -23C
    • Cold hardiness (USDA): (7) 0F / -18C
    • Cold hardiness (USDA): (8) 10F / -12C
    • Cold hardiness (USDA): (9) 20F / -7C
    • Cold hardiness (USDA): (10) 30F / -1C
    • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)
    • Summer average maximum temperatures: Warm (25-30C / 76-85F)
    • Chill requirement: Low-chill A borderline case - only needs about 700 hours

    Identification

    • Country of origin: New Zealand
    • Period of origin: 1950 - 1999
    • Leaf colour: Green
    • Fruit colour: Orange / Red

    Where to buy trees

    The following tree nurseries offer Braeburn apple trees for sale:


    Where to buy fresh fruit

    The following orchards grow Braeburn:

    United States


    United Kingdom


    France


    Canada


    Switzerland




    References

    • Cedar-Apple Rust  
      Author: Stephen Vann, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture (FSA7538)
      Rated as highly susceptible - control always needed where CAR is prevalent.
    • Apples for the 21st Century
      Author: Manhart

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