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The Gorgeous Yellow Criterion Apple

Soft yellow with a pink blush, the Criterion Apple is crispy and juicy. This gorgeous yellow gem is tasty and great for fresh eating. The firm flesh and slight tartness makes the fruit perfect for delicious baked apple dishes. Adding a Criterion Apple Tree to your home orchard will add a welcome variety to your classic apple tree options.

criterion apple tree
Apple tree – branches with red / yellow apples

History of the Criterion Apple Tree

Sometimes the best things in life happen by chance. That is the just case of the Criterion Apple Tree. A mixed heritage from a volunteer seedling, the Criterion Apple Tree was discovered in Washington State in 1968. The Criterion Apple Tree was released to the public for market in 1973 and became a great success with its Golden Delicious shape, pretty coloring, and a crisp and juicy profile.

The parentage of the Criterion Apple Tree is a cross between a Red Delicious, a Golden Delicious, and a Winter Banana Apple. The shape and coloring are similar to the Golden Delicious, and it would easily be mistaken as one.

Characteristics of the Criterion Apple Tree

This biennial fruit tree is a vigorous grower despite it bearing fruit every other year. Resistant to scab the tree is a desirable option for organic leaning orchardists who want to use as few herbicides and pesticides as possible.

It is a good option for gardeners already growing classic varietals since it cross pollinates with Gala, Granny Smith, and other popular varieties. The Criterion adds a yellow apple to the group, and rounds out the flavor profile of other traditional apples.

A wonderful characteristic of the Criterion Apple is the fruit keeps in the refrigerator for several months. It does not hold as well at room temperature, so be sure to keep your harvest chilled.

Planting Zones

The Criterion Apple Tree is best grown in USDA Hardiness Zones ranging from zones 5 through 8.

If this is your first time planting an orchard tree, read all about how to get off to a successful start with How To Grow Apple Tree. 

Size and Spacing

Allowing apple trees enough room to grow, set roots, and soak up sunshine are keys to a successful fruit orchard. Correct spacing is helpful at harvest time also affording you room for ladders and other harvesting items.

Our beginner primer, How To Plant Apple Trees, is a great resource for getting your apple trees planted correctly and to encourage a bountiful harvest.

Pollination Partners

Bee Pollinating an Apple Tree
Bee pollinates apple tree flowers on a sunny spring day

Good pollination partners for the Criterion Apple Tree are the Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and Gala. Many of these varieties may already be in your home orchard, therefore, adding the Criterion Apple Tree will be a great addition for your family garden. 

Have you ever considered keeping bees? Bees are amazing pollinators and will increase your orchards yield exponentially. They require minimum effort and reward you with honey and perfectly pollinated fruit trees.

Criterion Apple Tree Care

  • Sunlight
    • Like all apple trees, the Criterion Apple requires full sun, a minimum of 6 hours per day/
    • It is hardy to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Soil
    • Loves a loamy, well drained soil.
    • The best soil pH level is between 6.0-7.0.
  • Watering
    • Moist, well-drained soil is critical for a new sapling to flourish. 
    • When the tree is well established, water during times of drought.
  • Pruning
    • Keeping your tree well pruned will add longevity to the plant and improve the yield.
    • Prune away dead and diseased branches.
    • Prune cross branches to allow air circulation and sunlight into the center of your apple tree.
    • For the most complete pruning advice, visit our post on Pruning Apple Trees: The Home Grower’s Complete Guide.
  • Diseases & Care
    • The Criterion Apple Tree is resistant to scab.
    • Knowing about Apple Tree Diseases and Care is critical to keeping your trees healthy and productive.
  • Pests
    • Pests are always an issue for fruit trees. They love the sweet treats as much as we do. Keep a sharp eye out for common pests like apple maggot and codling moths who will wreck your crop.
    • The best time to treat these pests is early summer when the insects are laying their eggs. Select from a variety of organic crop control pesticides; choosing one that works best for you and your garden.

Common Uses For The Criterion Apple

Apple Crisp
Homemade Apple Crisp (click on image for recipe)

The Criterion Apple is a great all round apple. The tart and tangy flavor makes this yellow jewel versatile. It is delicious fresh from the tree. Perfect in salads and arranged on a cheese plate. The fruit is slow to oxidize, so the flesh doesn’t brown quickly. It is also a welcome addition to pies and baked goods. Additionally, they are excellent dried, juiced, or used for cider. 

Select fruit that is firm and solid. Stored in the refrigerator, the Criterion Apple will keep for two to three months.

The Criterion Apple works well in all kinds of apple recipes. 

Our Healthy Apple Muffin Recipe, made with whole wheat flour and maple syrup instead of processed sugar, is a healthy snack alternative to a traditional muffin recipe. You can freeze these tasty little apple gems and take one or two out as needed.

One of our new favorite recipes for fall is Delicious Caramel Apple Crumble. This is not your grandmas’ apple crumble! It will become your go-to recipe after the first bake. You can go all out and make every ingredient from scratch, or you can employ a few shortcuts to get your dessert on the table quick and easy. Either way, you are going to love this crumble.

Ciders are coming on the scene fast and furious. For your fall family gatherings, a batch of homemade apple cider will be the hit of your party. This Homemade Apple Cider recipe from delish is non-alcoholic making it perfect for the entire gang. Just add your favorite bourbon or whiskey to turn this spice filled cider into your favorite fall libation.

Do you remember devouring apple butter when you were younger? Well, this sweet spread is healthier than butter and helps use up a dozen apples. Delish’s Crock-Pot Apple Butter will be your new best friend to enjoy with your morning toast. You can’t get any easier than tossing everything into a crock-pot and walking away. It is the best way to achieve that homemade, took all day flavor.

Health Benefits of Eating Apples

High in vitamin C and fiber, apples are a perfect addition to any healthy eating regimen. 

To learn why apples are the best snack for your heart and your waistline, visit our post on the 10 Amazing Health Benefits of Apples.

Buying The Criterion Apple Tree

We prefer to use trusted nurseries when recommending fruit tree purchases. Nature Hills Nursery is our recommended purveyor of apple trees. However, they currently do not carry this particular tree, but check back often to see when they have one in stock. As an alternative, you may find one at your local nursery or farm stand. If they are a trusted vendor, you should take one of their Criterion Apple Trees home to give this beauty a sunny spot in your garden.

Where To Buy Criterion Apples

The Criterion Apple has made its way into the mainstream grocery stores. Pretty and delicious paired with a long shelf life make the apple perfect for commercial and local orchards to grow on a large scale. Customers love the beautiful yellow fruit with a pink/red blush. The Criterion Apple is as gorgeous on the plate as it is tangy and juicy to eat.

Fruit Facts / FAQs 

When is the best time to plant fruit trees?

Fall is the perfect time to plant new fruit trees. It will give your tree the very best start. It gives the roots a chance to get established while the tree is dormant. This allows the newly planted tree to have a great start once spring arrives.

What’s the difference between a dwarf apple tree and a standard apple tree? 

Dwarf apple trees take up less space, bear fruit at a younger age, and are easier to harvest. However, they are not quite as hardy as a standard apple tree, so they require more protection from wind and severe weather. Dwarf trees are not recommended for regions with extremely cold winters. 

How many apple trees should I plant to grow a great crop?

Most apple trees are not self fertile and require another tree to cross pollinate. You do need to keep the flowering time in mind, i.e. early bloomers vs. late bloomers since the flowers need to be open for pollen to be available. Two or three trees that bloom in the same time frame should aid in the production of a bountiful crop.

How are apple trees pollinated?

Apple trees rely on bees for pollination. The wind will not do the job. If you have a neighbor with a bee hive, consider yourself very lucky. If not, you may consider starting your own hive.

How soon will my apple tree produce fruit?

Much of that depends on the soil conditions, hardiness zone, apple variety, and rootstock. However, most apple trees will begin to bear fruit in their second or third year. If your tree does set fruit the first year, most growers will remove the budding apples to allow the tree to put its energy into growing the tree structure that first year. 

How long will my apple tree live?

Most standard apple trees will successfully produce fruit for 20 to 40 years. A dwarf apple tree has a shorter lifespan, and the production will run between 15 and 25 years. 

How do I know when my apples are ripe?

Determining your apple tree’s ripeness has much to do with experience with a particular variety. When you start growing a new type of apple, start sampling the fruit early to check for ripeness. Select fruits from different parts of the tree and taste them. Some apples will keep on the tree for several weeks, others need to be harvested as soon as they ripen. It will take a little practice and patience to get the best harvest from your tree. 

The Criterion Apple Tree

Here at Minnetonka Orchards, we are committed to providing you with the best advice about purchasing, growing, and cooking beautiful fruit. The Criterion Apple is a star in the orchard world, you need to add one to your homestead today.

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