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The Sleeping Beauty Apple

It’s time to kiss your tastebuds awake! With just one bite of the delicious, sweet, crisp Sleeping Beauty apple, you’ll discover a new favorite variety of this classic fruit—one that’s tart, crisp, and utterly delicious, an absolute royal among the apple family…and hidden within a variety most people already know! With a storied and unique history, getting your hands on this apple may take a small quest, but it will be worth it in the end!

Read on to learn more about the elusive Sleeping Beauty Apple and why it may just be the next one you have to try.

History of the Sleeping Beauty Apple

The history of this delicious apple variety lies partially masked in mystery, largely due to its two distinct varieties. The current United Kingdom variety is a yellow-tinted, green-skinned apple that dates its first appearance back to the 1850s.

In contrast, the North American variety is red-skinned and seems to be a nickname for an early-maturing variety of the popular Rome Beauty apple. It was dubbed by orchardist Dave Hale of Sebastopol, CA, who claims to have named this variety the “Sleeping Beauty” thanks to his customers remarking on its similarity to the apple in “Sleeping Beauty” (technically “Snow White”, but the name stuck!).

Bright red apple on tree.

Characteristics of the Sleeping Beauty Apple

The North American Sleeping Beauty is characterized by its classic, deep red coloring, akin to something right out of a fairytale, and is defined by its early maturing (it’s a common early-October crop, as opposed to the Rome Beauty’s typical late-October harvesting time). The inside also frequently has a lovely red striation to it, with an overall crisp texture and a sweet flavor.

The United Kingdom variant falls into the “green apple” spectrum, medium-sized, with a yellowish-green coloring and a tart finish.

Overhead view of yellow-green apples on table.

Common Uses For Sleeping Beauty Apples

Eating and Cooking With Them

Both varieties of Sleeping Beauty are noted for being a classically perfect culinary apple. The United Kingdom version boasts an acidic note upon first being cooked down for purees or sauces, but mellows out given time and proper storage. The North American variant, on the other hand, is popular for its sweetness from start to finish, making it great for a more classic applesauce taste as well as for your favorite apple dishes.

Food Pairings

Due to their tangy sweetness, Sleeping Beauties pair well with mellower flavors such as a brie cheese, a slice of honey-wheat toast, or as part of a charcutier platter. Because of their firm flesh, these apples hold up excellently for baking as well, making them a choice component for tarts and pies, donuts, muffins, and breads, or on their own as stuffed or baked apples. They cook down excellently for purees and sauces and will make a great apple for apple butters.

A charcuterie board with meats, cheese, bread, and spreads.
A charcuterie board is a fun way to pair apples with other foods.

Snacking

The Sleeping Beauty is also a fantastic snacking apple. Its sweetness and that tangy finish make it stand perfectly well on its own, and as far as the North American variety goes, its crisp texture makes it a favorite among apple lovers who prefer a sharp apple crunch over some of the softer red varieties. If you have kiddos who love a good, sweet fruit with a mild hint of tartness, you won’t have any trouble convincing them to reach for a Sleeping Beauty Apple for a snack—and that goes for either variety!

In terms of storage, Sleeping Beauties will typically keep for about 3-5 months in cold storage, so they can be bought or harvested and used further down the road.

A red Rome apple cut into slices on a plate.

Health Benefits

Like most apples, Sleeping Beauties offer a myriad of health benefits. In addition to being a naturally great source of vitamins and minerals, red apples like the North American Sleeping Beauty are great for boosting immunity, regulating blood sugar, and improving heart and brain health, and research shows they may even have tumor-fighting properties.

The green-skinned variety, in addition to all that, may give your digestive health an extra boost due to high amounts of the soluble fiber called pectin it contains. No matter which variety you get your hands on, your body will be happy with the powerhouse of health benefits the Sleeping Beauty Apple offers!

Growing At Home

If you can get your hands on this tree, you can prepare for a delicious harvest within 2-3 years of planting—a standard for the Rome family.

When shopping at your local nurseries or online retailers, you may not find “Sleeping Beauty” listed out due to its localized name origins and the distinct varieties; however, keep an eye out for when the Rome seed or seedling is expected to mature, and you may just find one with that early-maturing expectancy in the beginning of October that will demarcate it as a Sleeping Beauty variety.

Bright red apples growing on a tree.

For growing the Sleeping Beauty at home, you will want to follow standard Rome Beauty apple tree care—with full sun, in a loamy, well-drained, neutral soil, with a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the tree’s root ball. You will want to prune diligently, and water well and frequently for the first three years before switching to watering about every 10 days.

For a comprehensive guide on apple tree care, check out our article on Apple Tree Care!

Where To Buy The Sleeping Beauty Apple

The Sleeping Beauty Apple tree can be notoriously difficult to find! For the United Kingdom, you can check out East of England’s Apples and Orchards Project website; however, you may find this apple to be out of stock for indeterminate amounts of time.

Where To Buy Apples

If you’re in the Sebastopol area of California, you can purchase the North American Sleeping Beauty variety directly from Hale’s Apple Farm, either by stopping by the farm itself or visiting one of the various farmer’s markets in the area that feature their produce.

If you’d like to sample that delicious Sleeping Beauty Apple taste but don’t have access to either of these resources, the next best thing is to try a Rome Beauty, which is the broader variety under which Sleeping Beauty falls. This will give you the best chance to attain that same sweet tangyness and firm, crisp flesh that makes for an ideal baking apple, though you will have to wait a bit longer to find them mature.

For more information on Rome Beauty apples, including where to find them, how to grow them, and more, check out our article on Rome Apples.

Final Thoughts On the Sleeping Beauty Apple

Crimson colored apple on tree.

Scoring a prized Sleeping Beauty apple tree for your garden means you can grow apples that look like they came from a fairy tale. And you get to enjoy eating those fresh, delicious apples happily ever after!

Have you managed to get your hands on either elusive variant of the culinary treat that is the Sleeping Beauty Apple? What was your experience with it? Let us know in the comments below! To read about other apples, click here for our apple blog posts.