Ambrosia Apples

Ambrosia Apples: An Apple As Sweet As Honey

Ambrosia apples are a newer addition to the apple market, but they’re gaining popularity around the world.  If you’re not familiar with the variety, keep on reading! You won’t want to miss out on this delightful apple variety. Learn all about where this variety came from and what makes it special.

Where Do Ambrosia Apples Come From?  

Some apples like McIntosh have been around for hundreds of years. The Ambrosia variety was only discovered in the 1990s. The variety was discovered in British Columbia and quickly became favorite in Canada. Now, you can find the apple at orchards and grocery stores around the world.

 The Mennell family had an orchard in the Similkameen Valley region of British Columbia. One day, they found a seedling growing among their Jonagold trees. This seedling was the first Ambrosia apple tree. Within a couple of years, the tree had grown to full size and bore beautiful red-and-green fruit.

Nobody knows exactly where the tree came from. There’s speculation that the apple is some mix of Golden Delicious and either Jonagold or Starking Delicious, all of which also grew in the Mennell family’s orchard. That didn’t matter once orchard workers tasted the new tree’s fruit. They immediately fell in love with the mystery apples.

Everyone agreed the apples tasted just as good as they looked. The fruits were sugary sweet and juicy. The Mennell family decided to grow more of the trees in their British Columbia orchard. They patented the variety as “Ambrosia apples.” Soon, they began selling the variety with great success.

What Ambrosia Apples Taste Like

Ambrosia apples are known for tasting sweet as honey. They’re mildly aromatic, but overall have a straightforward flavor. In a perfectly ripe Ambrosia apple, you’ll taste floral notes similar to a wildflower honey. These apples are very low in acid. They won’t taste tart or tangy, just mellow and sweet.  

Everyone likes biting into a fresh and crisp apple. Ambrosias have a firm texture much like a Golden Delicious apple, but juicier.  They have a very thin skin, so there’s no need to peel the apples before eating them.

While some apples like McIntosh get softer and softer as they are stored, this variety keeps its crunchy texture for a long time if refrigerated. Just be sure not to leave them out at room temperature for days – any apple becomes soft and mealy just sitting on the countertop.

How to Use Ambrosia Apples

Child eating Ambrosia Apples

Ambrosia apples are a versatile variety.  The apples have a sweet and aromatic flavor perfect for a multitude of uses. They are slow to brown, firm enough for baking, and always delicious. If you’re looking for a new variety to use for anything and everything, try Ambrosia.

Generally, high-acid apples like Granny Smith or Pink Lady are considered the ideal baking apples. Ambrosia apples are unusual in that they are low-acid, but still hold their shape when baked. This is due to their dense flesh. You can use Ambrosia apples in pies, cakes, and all sorts of baked goods.

If you enjoy making apple juice, be sure to stock up on Ambrosia apples when they’re in season. They’ll make a sweet and floral juice everyone will enjoy. Even better, the variety is naturally high-juice. While some varieties like Red Delicious give you just about as much apple pulp as apple juice, just two or three Ambrosia apples make a full glass of juice.

Of course, we can’t neglect to mention that Ambrosia apples are the perfect fall snack. Nothing beats an apple fresh off the tree. Try pairing Ambrosia apples with something savory like a salad or savory cheese. The floral honey flavor of the apple is the perfect complement to a savory dish.

Next time you have Ambrosia apples on hand, try one of these recipes. If you can’t find Ambrosia apples, don’t worry! You can substitute another sweet and firm apple such as Golden Delicious or Fuji.

Where to Get Ambrosia Apples

Ambrosia apples require about 600 chill hours, meaning they grow well in moderately cool climates. That makes sense since they were developed in British Columbia. The variety is most commonly grown in Canada. As Ambrosia apples gain popularity, other countries have begun producing more and more of them.

You can find Ambrosia apples at grocery stores almost year-round since they store so well. However, they’re usually in season around September to January. If you live in British Columbia where the variety was discovered, there is a good chance you can find Ambrosia apples growing at an orchard near you.

Until just recently the Ambrosia variety was patented so only approved growers could produce the apples. Recently the United States and Canada patents expired, so more orchards are producing the fruit. Even so, Ambrosia variety is not as widely-grown as Red Delicious or Gala. You might not be able to find them at every grocery store, but you can always order them online. 

How to Grow Ambrosia Apples

Blooming Apple Blossoms in Apple Orchard

If you’re looking for a tree that’s just as pretty as it is useful, consider growing Ambrosia apple trees. These trees have beautiful deep green foliage and large white to pink flowers in the spring. In the fall, the trees produce large red and green apples that taste incredible.

Ambrosia apple trees grow in U.S. growing zones 4-8 and most parts of Canada. Plant these trees in full sun and well-draining soil. Ambrosia apples will thrive anywhere that Honeycrisp apples grow.  They require enough chill hours in the fall to get their red color.  If you live in an area that is warm in the late summer and early fall, consider growing a Fuji tree instead.

Ambrosia trees are the perfect choice to add a touch of color to a corner of your yard. They are very productive trees – some growers struggle to keep the tree at a manageable size. Prune and thin the tree during the winter and you should be fine.

The trees aren’t self-fertile like Braeburn, so you will need a cross-pollinator. Most other apple varieties such as McIntosh or Golden Delicious will pollinate an Ambrosia tree. Ambrosia apples are susceptible to fire blight and apple scab. Preventative measures such as spraying with fungicides should keep any diseases under control.

Ambrosia apples ripen in mid-September. Keep a careful eye on your fruit, because Ambrosia apples turn overripe very quickly. Try to pick all of the fruit within 7-14 days from when they become ripe. Wondering what to do with all those apples? Try making apple juice or cider to use up a large harvest.

Fun Facts About Ambrosia Apples

You might be wondering how Ambrosia apples got their name. It’s pretty easy to figure out why a variety such as Golden Delicious has its name, but what does “ambrosia” even mean? When the Mennell family first tasted the newly discovered apple, they were delighted with its honey sweet flavor.  They named the variety “Ambrosia” which means “food of the gods,” because the fruit was so sweet.

While some apples like Granny Smith are slow to brown because they are very high in acid, this variety is the opposite.  Ambrosia apples are very low in acid. This makes them come across as just sweet rather than tangy.  They’re also slow to turn brown. How can that be?

Well, apples turn brown when sliced because of specific enzymes that react with oxygen.  Acid slows down that reaction, so it makes sense why a high-acid apple would be slow to turn brown. Ambrosia apples are low in acid, but they’re also low in the enzymes that turn apples brown. This variety will never pucker your mouth, and it will stay nice and light in color when sliced. If you like sweet apples, it’s a win-win!

If you get the chance, definitely try Ambrosia apples. They may be a new variety, but they’re sure to remain a favorite for years.

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