Gala apples are the most popular apple variety in the United States. They defeated Red Delicious for the title of America’s favorite apple in 2018. It’s for good reason: they’re versatile, delicious, and available almost year-round. Today you’ll learn everything you want to know about the popular variety.
Where Gala Apples Came From
The Gala apple is popular and widely grown. James Hutton Kidd was a prominent New Zealand horticulturist. He crossed other varieties to develop Gala in the 1930s. As a young man, he studied agriculture and soon realized that growing apples was his passion.
He was unique among apple cultivators because he insisted on using a very scientific approach to breeding and developing his apples. J. H. Kidd loved discovering new, more disease-resistance apples. He had been breeding apples for years before creating the new Gala variety.
J. H. Kidd crossed one of his earlier varieties, a Kidd’s Orange Red, with a Golden Delicious apple. Kidd’s Orange Red was a cross between the then-popular Orange Pippin and the Red Delicious. His experimentation resulted in various strains of apples, including Gala. As you see, the Gala variety has descended from some of the most popular apple varieties in the world.
While it might seem like Gala apples have been around forever, in the United States this variety is still relatively new. Donald McKenzie introduced Gala apples to the United States in the 1970s. He patented the variety for the Stark Brothers Nursery. The variety has soared in popularity all the way through the present day.
What Gala Apples Taste Like
If you’re looking for a sweet and crisp multi-purpose apple, the Gala variety is for you. It has a primarily sweet flavor with well-balanced fruitiness. It has mild flavor complexity that makes it an excellent snack. Gala apples are descended from Kidd’s Orange Red and the Red Delicious and have the best of both apples.
Kidd’s Orange Red has yellow skin with a mottled pink blush. It is described as almost chewy and very juicy. The flavor of an Orange Red is slightly aromatic, but mostly features a rich sweetness that’s prized in apples. Red Delicious is known for its crisp texture and mild, sweet flavor. Cross the two, and the Gala apple is the perfect sweet multi-purpose variety.
Galas are known for their sweet flavor. They tend to be crisp apples, especially when fresh. Galas feature white flesh, low acidity, and are not very tart. Fresh-picked Gala apples are sweet and fruity. They are said to taste somewhat like a fresh pear. The longer they are off the tree, the more mellow the flavors become.
The Gala apple is moderately juicy. The texture becomes softer if the apple remains at room temperature, somewhat like a McIntosh apple. Its direct sweetness and moderate crispness make it an excellent choice for use in both savory and sweet dishes. It has golden yellow and red skin that is a beautiful addition to any salad.
What to Use Gala Apples For
You’ll love to use Gala apples for cooking. The variety works well for apple baking recipes, as it becomes soft but still holds its shape when baked. They also are a fantastic choice for snacking. However, the moderately crisp and sweet apple is a stand-out for pairing with savory flavors.
Gala apples are a tasty variety to choose for making apple juice. You’ll love Gala apple juice if you like mellow and fruity juice. Just be sure that you’re juicing the apples when they are as fresh and ripe as possible. Store your apples in the refrigerator for best results. If the apples sit at room temperature for an extended amount of time, the texture becomes mealy, and the apples yield less juice.
If you’ve never had apples as part of the main meal, you’re in for a treat! Galas are one of the best apple varieties to use for throwing in a salad or balancing a savory flavor. If you can’t find Gala, you can substitute another multi-purpose apple like Golden Delicious. Try one of these delicious apple recipes for your next meal.
- Honey-Mustard Chicken and Apples
- Chicken Salad with Apples and Cranberries
- Apple Muffins
- Apple Cider Slushie
- Chopped Apple Salad
- Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops
- Kale and Apple Salad
- Chicken Normandy with Apples
Where to Get Gala Apples
Gala apples are commonly grown in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Basically, you can find Gala apples all over the world. This variety also keeps well in storage, so no matter where they are grown, they are just about available year-round.
If you live in an area where these apples are grown, you might be lucky enough to get them fresh from an orchard or farmer’s market near you. If you’re picking your own, make sure they are ripe as possible. This variety is known for its mottled red blush. You can tell if Gala apples are ripe when the green skin underneath turns a golden yellow.
Since the apple variety is one of the most popular in the United States, you can find Gala apples at a U.S. grocery store year-round. Otherwise, you can order them online.
How to Grow Gala Apples
Gala apples are a great apple treat to grow in most areas of the United States. They also grow well in parts of Europe and Australia. However, Gala trees aren’t the most cold-hardy option. The trees grow anywhere that a Golden Delicious would. Dwarf Gala trees are a good option for a beginner, as they are fairly low maintenance and grow to a smaller size.
Plant your Gala apple tree in full sun. These trees do best in moist but well-draining soil. Galas do require a cross-pollinator. Just about any other variety of apple or a crabapple tree will pollinate a Gala tree. The trees produce well in proper conditions.
While a variety of diseases may plague Gala trees, they are particularly susceptible to fire blight. Most diseases can be kept away with basic preventative measures such as careful use of fungicides. Prune the trees when young so that they develop a sturdy base. Follow by pruning once or twice a year as needed until the trees are fully mature.
The full-size trees grow 20 to 25 feet tall. The fruits aren’t traditional red apples but are rather golden-yellow with a red blush when ripe.
Fun Facts About Gala Apples
The apple is following in the footsteps of its popular parent varieties Orange Pippin and Red Delicious. In 2018, the Gala apple surpassed the classic Red Delicious in popularity. It’s currently the number one selling apple in the United States. Due to different ripening seasons depending on where they are grown, Gala apples are available year-round at grocery stores.
The Royal Gala apple is just another variety of the Gala cultivar. This strain has redder skin than the original and is more popular in the U.K. and New Zealand. If you like Gala apples, you’re in royal company. The Royal Gala variety got its name when Queen Elizabeth II declared her liking for the variety.
Gala apples have thinner skin than many other apple varieties. This means they bruise easily, so be careful when stocking up your grocery bag. Once they are peeled, Gala apples do tend to oxidize and turn brown quickly. If you are slicing Gala apples for salads, squeeze some lemon juice over the slices to keep them a nice light color.
It makes sense why these apples are so popular. If you like crisp and sweet apples, Gala is sure to be your all-purpose favorite. Try using Gala apples next time you’re looking for fruit.