Golden Delicious apples are the fruit version of a rags-to-riches fairy tale. They were discovered by accident on a family farm and rose to be one of the most popular varieties sold today. Furthermore, this variety is the parent of over 30 other popular varieties.
These apples are a favorite for everything from apple pie to apple juice. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about Golden Delicious apples, from their fascinating origin to where they grow.
Where Did Golden Delicious Apples Come From?
Golden Delicious is a historic apple variety also known as Yellow Delicious. The variety is a versatile favorite for its large fruit that tastes of sugar and spice, crisp and juicy flesh. Golden Delicious apples are one of the top 10 apple varieties sold in the United States.
It was found by chance during the early 20th century on the Mullins farm in West Virginia. Once the Stark Brothers began selling it commercially, the Golden Delicious variety soared in popularity and has remained a favorite to the present day.
Anderson Mullins was a family farmer who kept a small orchard. He discovered a crop of yellow apples on a tree that he didn’t remember planting. He sent some of the apples to the Stark Brothers, who were impressed by the rich flavored yellow apples.
Golden Delicious was larger than the Grimes Golden and sweeter than the Golden Reinette. Nobody had ever grown such large, flavorful yellow apples before. The tree must have grown from seed, and nobody knows exactly where that seedling came from.
The large yellow apples were a novelty and impressed everyone who tasted them. The Stark Brothers began cultivating and selling Golden Delicious apples in 1916.
While you can’t help but notice that the name Golden Delicious sounds much like Red Delicious, the two varieties aren’t closely related. Rather, the Stark Brothers named the new variety in hopes that it would take off in popularity like Red Delicious had.
What Golden Delicious Apples Taste Like
Golden Delicious apples are known for their sweet and rich flavor. A regular supermarket Golden Delicious doesn’t always live up to the variety’s full potential, as the apples are picked when still green. However, a fully ripe Golden Delicious picked fresh from the tree at your local orchard is a treat.
Golden Delicious apples taste like sweet, spicy apple cider. Some compare their flavor to a McIntosh apple. These apples are very sweet, like honey, and slightly tart but not bitter. The variety is known for its spiced flavor. You’ll pick up on a mellow gingerbread-like flavor in a ripe Golden Delicious apple.
The Golden Delicious variety is crisp and juicy. It has a thin skin, so it does tend to bruise easily. The fruits are larger than most other golden apples, with very white flesh.
How to Use Golden Delicious Apples
Golden Delicious apples are a versatile variety. They can really be used for almost anything. The rich and complex flavor makes these crisp apples great for snacking. Golden Delicious is the perfect apple for making homemade apple juice or cider, since they are naturally sweet and juicy.
Their sweet, spiced flavors pairs well with savory food such as cheese and chicken. Next time you get Golden Delicious apples from your local orchard or grocery store, try serving them in an apple salad or on a cheese platter.
The variety produces are a firm fruit that is stable enough for baking. Their firm flesh doesn’t shrivel when you’re making dehydrated apples. Furthermore, the apple is so sweet it does not usually require added sugar. These factors make Golden Delicious apples a baking favorite.
If you don’t have Golden Delicious apples around, substitute a similar sweet and firm-fleshed apple. Jonagold, Gala, Pink Lady, and Fuji varieties all work as substitutes in cooking and baking recipes. However, no other variety quite matches the spicy sweetness of a ripe Golden Delicious.
Try using Golden Delicious apples in these recipes:
- Baked Cinnamon Apples
- Old Fashioned Easy Apple Crisp
- Golden Delicious Apple Pie
- Apple Cobbler
- Golden Delicious Apple and Cheddar Turnovers
- Coconut Apple Ginger Dal
- Kale Apple Salad
- Dehydrated Apples
Where to Get Golden Delicious Apples
Golden Delicious apples grow best in temperate climates. They thrive in US growing zones 4-9. They are also commonly grown in temperate areas of Europe.
If you live in the United States, there’s a good chance you can find Golden Delicious at a grocery store or orchard near you. If not, you can order the apples online. Since Golden Delicious apples store well in the right temperature and humidity levels, you can get them year-round from grocery stores.
However, the most flavorful and rich Golden Delicious apples are the ones picked fresh and fully ripe off the trees of an orchard. Stock up when the apples are in season near you and keep the apples in a cool location. Golden Delicious fruit will store 3-6 months in the refrigerator.
How to Grow Golden Delicious Apples
Golden Delicious apples are fairly easy to grow. If you live in a temperature climate, you can grow your own Golden Delicious tree for a delicious harvest in September or October. If you’re new to growing apple trees, it’s best to buy a seedling rather than try to grow a tree from seed.
Plant your Golden Delicious in full sun and well-draining soil. The tree will not produce much (or any) fruit if it doesn’t have enough sunlight. Clear an area around where you’ll plant the tree and plant the seedling two feet in the ground.
Prune the tree when it is young to keep it sturdy. Once it has reached full maturity, prune it once or twice a year as needed. This will help the tree stay healthy and produce a good crop of fruit.
Golden Delicious trees come in standard and dwarf sizes. Standard trees grow up to 25 feet tall and bear fruit in 7-10 years. Dwarf Golden Delicious trees will grow up to 15 feet tall and bear fruit in 3 or 4 years.
Golden Delicious trees are the only apple trees that get the disease necrotic leaf blotch. This is a minor ailment and can be treated with zinc sprays. They are also susceptible to powdery mildew and other like diseases. Prevent these issues by planting your Golden Delicious apple trees in a well-draining, full sun area and using fungicides as needed.
Fun Facts About Golden Delicious Apples
Golden Delicious apples grown in cool climates actually taste sweeter than those grown in warmer climates. This is because apples grown in cooler climates have more acid, which increases the intensity of the aromatic sweet flavor.
No other apple has quite the same golden-yellow hue as a ripe Golden Delicious. Most popular apples are either a classic red or a true green. The variety was one of the first popular golden yellow apples.
In 2013, Golden Delicious was commemorated by the United States Postal Service when it was put in a stamp series for historic apple varieties. While it might not be the first historic apple that comes to mind, it’s been around since the early 1900s.
The Golden Delicious apple variety is a parent apple to over 28 other varieties. Gala, Ambrosia, and Pink Lady are all a cross of Golden Delicious apples and another variety. That means Golden Delicious is related to some of the most popular apples sold today.
It’s easy to see why Golden Delicious apples are such a favorite. From their interesting origin to incredible flavor, what’s not to love? Even better, you can use these apples for almost anything from dehydrating to snacking. Next time you’re looking for a delicious fruit option, try a Golden Delicious apple.