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All About Gold Rush Apples

Gold rush apples are a sweet, juicy apple created to be disease resistant. They are great trees for home growers hoping to avoid the common apple ceases of scab and mildew, and the fruit keep for an exceptionally long time in the refrigerator.

Gold Rush Apples
Gold Rush yellow apples in crates at a market.

History

Gold rush apples are among some of the newer apple cultivars created to be resistant to specific pests or diseases. This variety is the fruit of a joint agricultural program established between the Indiana, New Jersey, and Illinois agricultural experimentation stations.

The breeding program created the gold rush apple tree from the seed of a golden delicious apple pollinated by a variety of other apple cultivars.

Gold rush apples, also called GoldRush, show resistance to apple scab, apple mildew, and fire blight. Apples that demonstrate resistance to certain pests or diseases are important to growers trying to cultivate orchards in climates that are rife with organisms that can decimate traditional apple orchards.

Unfortunately, they are susceptible to cedar-apple rust, making them poor candidates for planting within 2-3 miles of juniper trees.

While the agricultural program did patent the apple, it was introduced to the market in 1993, and home-growers can easily find this tree in nurseries.

How do gold rush apples taste?

Gold rush apples are so named for the “rush” of crisp flavor you can expect when biting into the apple. It is sweet like its parent apple, the golden delicious, and some say that the flavor has a bit of spice. It does have a higher degree of acidity than the golden delicious, but it still produces delightful juice, making it a favorite apple for cider makers.

Ways to Use Gold Rush Apples

Apple Cinnamon Drink
Apple cinnamon drink on fall background

The most noteworthy feature of these apples, other than that they are disease resistant, is that they have a very, very long shelf life – up to seven months! Upon picking, they are tart, but after maturing for another 6-8 weeks, they are prime candidates to be dessert apples.   

At that point, you you can use them in your favorite apple dumpling or apple muffin recipe. Given their crispness, they should hold up well for baking. As they age, their peel may get a little shriveled, but the flesh inside will maintain crispness.

They are also favorite hard cider apples, and you can make the weak stuff easily in your home with these juicy fruits.

Gold Rush Apple Storage

To make your apples last 6-7 months, store them a bit differently than you usually do fruits. Generally, vegetables like higher humidity while fruits like lower humidity; that is why your refrigerator crisper has different settings for fruit and vegetables, and older generations even call the crisper the ‘hydrator.’

Apples like more humidity than most friends, and gold rush apples in particular will benefit from the vegetable humidity setting to keep the skin hydrated. The ideal temperature for apples is 31 degrees Fahrenheit, so the 6-7 month storage life is conditioned on that lower temperature. As little as a 10 degree increase can lessen the life of the apple by half.

If your crisper is full (or non-existent), or even just to give your fruits and vegetables and extra boost in the crisper, try these food storage bags that provide humidity control for optimal storage.

Health Benefits of Gold Rush Apples

Gold Rush Apple

There is a reason mothers and doctors everywhere push apples into children’s hands: they are consistently a low-calorie snack with important nutritional elements.  

Gold rush apples have plenty of soluble and insoluble fire, which in addition to controlling cholesterol, helps with digestion. The skin is loaded with Vitamin C. Calorie counters can plan for 70 to 80 calories per apple.  

Where to Buy Gold Rush Apples

For in-person purchases, visit local nurseries that have some more unique trees than the average big box store. 

If you find that your local, in-person options are limited, you may have more success online. 

You can buy Gold Rush Apples from our favorite online nursery Nature Hills Nursery. Buy Gold Rush Apples here.

Chances are, you will not see these apples in your local grocery. Unfortunately, they are not widely commercially grown because they do benefit so much from that six-week storage period to let them sweeten. Consequently, you are most likely to find them at farmer’s markets if there is a grower near you.

If you cannot find the fresh fruit in your local grocery store, try Kauffman’s Fruit Farm & Market.

How to Grow Gold Rush Apples

Commercial Apple Orchard
Agriculture. Rows of apple trees grow.

Gold rush trees are considered easy to grow, so they are great trees for first-time apple planters. They will grow any in any climate in the contiguous United States. Keep in mind that they are very late season producers – October and even into November is normal.

If you do live in a cooler area, you may been to provide a bit of shelter on the north and west sides of the tree if it has unripe fruit still on the tree when an early winter storm comes in. The tree is hardy down to -40 Fahrenheit, so it will be fine, but the fruit will end up the worse for the wear.

Appearance and What to Expect in Your New Tree

This tree’s growth ranges from 8 to 16 feet in height and comes in both dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties. If you are wondering why many apple trees come in such small sizes, different from the super-tall trees many of us remember from our childhoods, it is because that is the modern breeding preference to make the crop easier to pick.

Expect small, white flowers in April.

Planting and Growth

Apple trees like loamy, well-drained soil so when you are digging your hole that is at least twice as wide and deep as the root ball, toss in some compost or manure as you backfill if you do not have naturally loamy soil.  They do the best in neutral soil (pH 6.0-7.0), and if you have any doubts about the makeup of your soil, check in with your local extension office.  They usually offer soil sample testing.

Planting an Apple Tree
Planting apple trees. Hands of man and child hold a seedling apple

These apple trees are not self-pollinating, so you do need to plant a second apple tree within 50 feet.

Recommended pollination partners include the Akane, Cortland, and Empire apples.

Pruning

Gold rush trees benefit from aggressive pruning. While it can seem counter-intuitive to chop off fruit-bearing trees, your grit will be rewarded with increased yields and improved tree health in following seasons.

Failure to properly prune your fruit trees can lead to needless breakage from inclement weather and can promote the growth of molds and fungi due to decreased air circulation in the canopy.

Similar Fruits

The sweet crispness of the gold rush will likely remind you of a honey crisp, and they are great substitutes for each other. One thing to keep in mind is the gold rush’s superior shelf life, so if you aren’t sure whether you will use an entire bag or bushel of apples before they go bag, turn towards the gold rush rather than the honey crisp..  

If you are looking for other sweet, juicy apples good for cider making, consider the red delicious.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I wash gold rush apples before storing them in the refrigerator?

Put the unwashed apples in the crisper for maximum storage potential. Much like berries, apples decay faster after being exposed to water.

Why is the gold rush popular in hard cider?

Sweet-tart apples like this one are popular because they bring a more complex flavor than a simply sweet apple, and the spicy favor of the gold rush will give the cider more depth.

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