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The Pink Pearl Apple

The pink pearl is a gem of an apple. Sorry for the poorly written pun, but we just couldn’t resist. This apple has a history dating back more than 60 years ago, and it actually gets its name from the pink coloring inside.

Pink Pearl Apples freshly sliced onto a white plate.
Pink Pearl Apples freshly sliced.

Although there’s never been a definite reason for the “pearl” part of its moniker, we’re guessing that has to do with the fact that it has a pearly interior. The appearance isn’t this apple’s only claim to fame; it’s actually a mighty tasty apple that’s used to bake, cook, and a deliciously refreshing treat on an autumn day.

Before you purchase a pink pearl apple tree, you should understand what type of care it’ll require to ensure you get the most out of your investment. 

History of the Pink Pearl Apple and Pink Pearl Apple Tree 

Albert Etter, a cultivator in northern California, developed this unique apple. It’s a child of the infamous “Surprise” apple, which is another apple that has pink flesh. Horticulturists and scientists specializing in this area of science believe it came from the Malus niedzwetzkyana apple. 

Etter spent many years breeding apples to create red-fleshed ones. He partnered with George Roeding Jr. from the California Nursery Company to market his creations to the public. With the help of Roeding, they decided on seedling #39, which was none other than the present-day Pink Pearl apple. The apple seed was patented and accurately named the “Pink Pearl” in 1945. 

Pink Pearl Apple Tree / Pink Pearl Apple Characteristics

This apple tree has some unforeseen surprises lurking beneath the guise of a regular apple. 

When you look at the apple tree itself, you’ll notice that it has green foliage, except for in the fall when they turn yellow. All the leaves have only one lobe, are elliptical and seem pretty standard. The apples don’t appear any different than many other varieties of apples on the outside. In the early fall, these apples are green, sometimes with a hint of light red. Once a pink pearl apple is fully developed, it’s usually medium-sized. 

The flowers are pink, making it an excellent addition if you’re trying for a tree that has curbside appeal. 

You get the real surprise when you open the apple as the inside of it is pink rather than white or cream colored. The inside is slightly translucent, giving its meat a pearly appearance. 

Planting Zones 

These apples are a hardy variety. They grow well in a number of zones. As a general rule, those who are in zones three through nine will have the best results. That doesn’t say much, so let’s discuss which states are in these zones. 

Zone three is up north mainly. States in this category include Minnesota, Maine, Montana, Vermont, and South Dakota. Examples of states in zone four include Maine, Michigan, Iowa, Montana, and New York. 

Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming make up zone five, with some examples excluded. If you’re in Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, or North Carolina, you’re in zone six and can grow this apple tree. 

You could also grow these apples if you’re in South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee, or Utah, which are all zone seven states. 

Zones eight and nine include:

  • Florida
  • Washington D.C.
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Arizona

This isn’t a complete list of all states in these zones. It also doesn’t incorporate the fact that every state has more than one zone, even if it’s just a sub-category of the zone. Therefore, it’s vital that you do your research about your particular area before deciding on planting a Pink Pearl apple.

Size and Spacing

This tree will grow to be 11-feet high on average if you purchase the dwarf variety. 

On the other hand, regular-sized trees will grow between 12-to-15-feet in height. The spread of an average-sized apple tree tends to range between 12 and 15 feet wide. As a general rule, you should aim to keep this tree 15 feet away from any other Pink pearl apple trees you grow as well as any other type of apple tree or tree in general.

You may need to space them further apart from other trees, depending on the spread of those trees. That way, all of your trees get enough sunlight to grow healthy and fruit, if they’re of a fruit-bearing variety. 

Pollination

Honey bee pollinating a pink apple blossom.
Honey bee pollinating a pink apple blossom.

This tree isn’t self-fertile. That means you’ll need at least two trees, so pollination can happen. Flowers of the tree have both male and female parts — eggs and pollen. However, in order for the pollen and eggs to meet, you must have two trees.

You could also decide to plant an apple of another variety that’s an acceptable pollinator, such as the Fameuse, Dolgo, Macintosh, Johnathon, and Alkmene, among others. 

Tree Care

The Pink Pearl apple requires little special treatment, which makes it an excellent choice for people who want to reap the reward of the apples but don’t have, or don’t want, to invest the time in this plant. There still are some basic care rules that you’ll have to follow, though, for the best results. 

Sunlight

The sunlight is a source of energy for trees, including their leaves, flowers, and fruit, and this one requires at least six to eight hours per day of full-on sunlight. The Pink Pearl apple tree will thrive best if you plant it in an area where other trees or buildings don’t hamper its sun exposure. 

Watering

Watering your plants is essential to their growth and development. Generally, you should water this apple tree at least once per week. You may need to water it more than once per week during dry spells. Keep in mind that you don’t want to overwater the plant, just ensure that the soil stays moist. If you give it too much water, you could damage the roots. This could lead to the tree not receiving the nutrients it requires to survive. 

Pruning 

Your tree requires regular pruning. You may aggressively prune it to ensure the tree remains small and manageable. On the contrary, it doesn’t require this type of pruning. You could always focus on removing any vertical, damaged, decayed, or diseased branches only to increase the chances of your apple tree remaining healthy for years to come. 

Pruning Apple Trees.
Pruning an apple tree in early winter.

Generally, you should prune the tree at the end of summer or early winter. This doesn’t give new branches time to form and ensures you won’t damage the tree, which can happen if you prune out of season. Prune after this year’s growth is done and before next year’s growth begins.

This is vague and doesn’t fully explain how to prune. We offer guides for DIYs who want to go out and prune their own Pink pearl apple trees each year.  

Diseases & Care 

Generally, this apple tree is rather resilient. Few issues plague this plant, unlike certain other types of apples. For instance, it’s resistant to scab, which is a fungal infection that affects the leaves and fruit of plants. You’ll notice that the leaves may develop spots or fall off the tree early. It also will discolor the apple, sometimes rendering the fruit inedible. 

Fire blight — a bacterial infection exclusive to trees — could attack your tree. It’s also prone to apple rust, bitter rot, and black rot. 

If you want the full scoop on apple diseases and prevention, we put together a blog with all the information you’ll need to keep your tree disease free. 

Pests

Aphids and mites will have no problem attacking your crop, no matter how small or large. They may have some competition, considering mammals like raccoons, skunks, and deer will consume these fruits. 

You can take certain steps to reduce the pest around your precious pearls by putting a mulch bed around the entire circumference of the trunk of your tree. Both homemade and in-store pest control products could help. Just make sure they’re safe for human consumption, and animals as well, if you plan to feed these apples to a pet. 

Common Uses for the Pink Pearl Apple 

Don’t let the name fool you; these apples aren’t mild and dainty by any means. This fruit packs a punch. It’s tart with sweet notes. It’s slightly acidic without being overwhelming. Plus, the pink flesh is great for baked goods and to use raw. 

Apples are highly versatile in baked goods. There’s little they can’t do, especially the Pink Pearl. Consider making a tart, cobbler, crisp, pie, cookies, snack bars, crumble, or apple dumplings. Applesauce from these apples is quite a unique experience. Its flavor isn’t the only aspect of the apple that makes it ideal for sauce; its color is as well. 

Apple waffles can be easily made with pink pearl apples.
Apple waffles can be easily made with pink pearl apples.

Sweet desserts aren’t the only uses for apples. You may want to consider using the apples in stuffing, a chicken or pork dish, waffles, pancakes, or chicken salad. Apples pair well with other fruits like raisins, cherries, or mango. Try making an apple smoothie for a healthful, yet satisfying, treat. You could try using the apples in sauerkraut to dull the acid and sour flavor. Let’s not forget that these apples can be eaten raw. They’re delicious and have the most nutrition when they’re in this form. 

Since you’ll have at least two trees, you’ll have quite a few apples. Fortunately, they stay fresh for quite some time, over a month, in your fridge. You can also can, freeze, or dry them to enhance their lifespan and get the most use out of your crop. 

Canning is the most entailed way to store these apples, but they’ll last for one to two years on the shelf. To can, you’ll need to wash, peel, and cut these apples. While you can leave them whole and cored, you’ll notice that they’re incredibly hard to store this way. Therefore, you’ll want to cut them into chunks, slices, or rings first. Add juice, water, or syrup to the jar to keep them fresh. 

When you choose to freeze them, they’ll stay fresh for three to six months. Freeze them in slices, rings, or chunks. Always lay them on a cookie sheet flat and freeze them completely before placing them in a storage container. 

On average, a dried apple will last up to six months. They make excellent toppers — and healthy — toppers for cereal, ice cream, and yogurt. Add them to your own homemade trail mix for a sweet surprise. You may dry them in either an air fryer, oven, or dehydrator. 

Health Benefits of the Pink Pearl Apple   

An apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away, but it does have key nutrients that aid in digestive and heart health. The pink pearl apple has potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. These are all necessary for your overall health, such as nerve function, wound repair, and immune response. Check out more about the health benefits of the pink pearl apple here

Where to Buy This Fruit Tree

This fruit tree can be ordered from the Nature Hills Nursery — it’s an online nursery that’s been going strong since 2001. They have a variety of indoor and outdoor plants that you can order and have delivered to your door, no matter where you’re located in the US. 

An orchard or garden supply center in your general vicinity may be able to provide you with one in general. 

Where to Buy Pink Pearl Apples

Pink pearl variety of apple with slices flying.
Pink pearl variety of apple, with slices flying.

Local supermarkets and superstores may carry these apples. You might also find orchards within driving distance that carry them. An online search can also yield results on where you can buy the fruit online

Wrapping Up the Pink Pearl Apple Tree

This apple tree isn’t anything special, but once you taste the apple and view the inside of it, you’ll get why it’s such a popular variety. Fortunately, the care is minimal but will require you to have enough space to have two potted trees or stationary ones in the soil. 

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