Golden Russet – Apple Review

About –  Mysterious history. Said to be a seedling of English Russet, a long lost european russet. Discovered in the 1700’s. What IS Golden Russet? Its hard to say, There are so many confusing stories about Golden Russet, American Golden Russet, English Golden Russet, English Russet, Bullock. Confused yet? If not, read this, as noted from an Ohio AG meeting in the 1880s:

GoldenRussetConfusion

Even back in the 1880’s when apple growing was much more personal, we still didnt know how to distinguish these russets all that well.

Beech in Apples of New York offers some distinctions between English and Golden Russet.

russets

comparisonERGR

Shape – Medium sized, round, relatively even shaped, flattened on both top and bottom to give a fat barrel appearance.
Skin –  Golden, finely grained russet. Orange glow on the sun side. Feel of the skin is potato like. The skin will cause the taste buds on your tongue to rise due to the roughness. Slight greenness near the stem. Lenticels yellowish, mixed with the russet color, more prominent when not ripe.
Flesh – Yellow, finely grained, dense. Breaking, juicy enough, crunchy. Juice is grainy. has texture. Oxidizes quickly.
Taste – Honey & pear flavors mixed with a dash of lemon, almond, and a smooth hint of fine grained cane sugar. Sweet, very sweet, with some acidity but not tart. Flavors are not strong, but not weak. Rich. Try eating 2, I dare you.

Bottom line: THE apple for me. I’ve said it many times to growers and potential pickers, Golden Russet is the best kept secret in apple cultivation. The general population does not gravitate to it due to its non-red/green appearance, but from a beauty perspective, it certainly ranks up there. Very dense apple, weighty, similar in weight to a baseball. Soluble sugar contents rank as one of the highest at 21%. Can make a 10% ABV cider that borders on wine. Try mixing the juice of a few of these into an ordinary container of 1/2 gallon cider and be prepared to experience some of the richest cider you’ve ever tasted.

Variety Note: Tip bearer, very vigorous, crops light. One high density orchard has a row of these trees with fireblight. Another orchard has one, very large, majestic, free standing tree that is free of this problem. These are relatively minor issues and are not a justification for demerit. Apples are exceptional keepers, and will store in a high humidity environment at 34 degrees for 6 months. Sugars will develop more and become richer with time.
Why dont I grow it? Light bearing, and I cant have a big tree with only 20-50 apples on it in a small yard. Specimen picked October 14th from Lindsey’s Idyllwood Orchards. Samscott in Kinderhook NY has a long row of these as well.

Fresh eating rating: 10/10 – King of Kings. I have yet to find an apple to meet or surpass this one. This includes the perennial Monticello winner, Ashmead’s Kernel. Its richness is merely a compliment to its perfect combination of flavors and texture. Best.

Culinary rating: 8/10 – Cooks very well, holds its shape, stays crunchy to add texture to pie filling. Will add natural sugar in place of processed sugars. Rich.

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8 Responses to Golden Russet – Apple Review

  1. Hear, hear! We agree completely!!

  2. Stevene says:

    Finally, a review of the Golden Russet that I can get behind. I’ve had opportunity to compare Golden russet with Ashmeads in 3 or 4 different years and Golden always wins hands down for complexity and total harmony of flavor. Same with Roxbury Russet v.s. Golden Russet. A lot of apples have initial flavor that drops off pretty fast. Golden seems to bloom in your mouth as you chew. The flavors are complex, but they seem to harmonize very well, like a symphony of flavor. After having several that drew all my attention while eating, found me chewing the pulp thoroughly to get every drop of flavor out but still wanting to finish one bite just so I could get to the next one, I realized that Golden Russet is no ordinary apple. I have two trees. One was attacked by wood rats and was set back (apparently the wood tastes good too!) and the other, though growing nicely and 10 feet tall, hasn’t produced more than 10 or so apples in the last couple years, which the birds have eaten all of. I’ve eat one half of an apple off my two trees, but it was really good! The trees are rangy, straggly, unproductive things that no one seems to know how to prune. Clearly the only reason it survived this far is the outstanding fruit quality. My main criteria for quality is apples now is how compelling they are. Golden Russet is extremely compelling and was really important in inspiring me to pursue the “apple trail” as Albert Etter put it. Sometimes I want an apple that I can just eat while paying attention to something else. A little sugar, some nice flavor, but I could forget I’m eating it and keep typing or talking or whatever. Golden Russet is not that apple. It demands attention. Very rich indeed.

    I recently mentioned the golden russet in this apple essay. http://turkeysong.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/apple-head-from-punk-to-the-plunk-of-falling-apples/

    Great site! I had you bookmarked a while back, but haven’t visited for a while. Great reviews and nice format.

  3. megamav says:

    Stevene, thanks so much for the compliments. I try to cover the review of the apple itself and discuss the tree habits if possible. This information comes from personally inspecting the tree or internet anecdotes or both. More and more homeowners are starting to grow their own food, rather than pay supermarket pricing for crap quality. Plus we can control how many sprays we apply and what level of blemishing is acceptable. I think its important for us to make anecdotes about these varieties, so much is getting lost in the past. Different people have different tastes. but its hard to argue how good this one is from multiple angles. The rich flavor that lasts and lasts. There isnt much flavor fatigue, where the next apple you eat isnt quite as good as the first. It keeps VERY well, many months in high humidity storage, and tastes even better after January 1st, but still excellent when picked. Storage isnt required to enjoy it. Its a vigorous tree, the only stinker is, its a tip bearer and not productive. Legend!

  4. Living in the Fingers Lakes region, we are proud to claim that the Golden Russet found today (when it can be found) is the variety once called Golden Russet of Western New York. We elated a customer into bright excitement at our last farmers market by having Golden Russets for sale — but she was the first customer this year to show any interest in any of our russets.

    This was the first year our Ashmead’s Kernal tree bore fruit, so that might have prejudiced us, but it edged out Golden Russet in taste tests by having more intense flavor and complexity, both in cider and fresh eating; though I would give the Golden Russet higher marks, as Stephene remarked, for harmony of flavor.

    • megamav says:

      Both Ashmead’s Kernel and Golden Russet are very VERY good apples, and russets. When I eat an Ashmeads there is definitely more going on with palette stimulation but its very difficult to unpack exactly what the flavors are. More acids for sure. Golden Russet is like driving a Lexus, bells and whistles, easy to drive, smooth. Ashmead’s Kernel is like a Corvette, faster, more edgy, but a stiffer ride. Both get you there, but in different ways. I just prefer the richness over complexity. Taste is very personal!

  5. Stevene says:

    This could very well be regional. I haven’t had an ashmeads here that really matches that description. I have a couple of dwarf trees going, but they haven’t put out much yet. Hope to taste one of those Corvettes someday.

  6. jim says:

    Just juiced some golden russets. Used core and skin. Flavor of plain juice is fantastic, strong cinnamon flavor with peppery clovey finish. Faint almondy undertones (probably from the pits).

  7. Ezra Sherman says:

    Thanks very much for the best information I have found yet on the Golden Russet. I would like to add to your tasting notes and ratings for fresh eating and culinary use that it is an excellent (fermented) cider apple. We use it as the foundation for two of our ciders, after experimentation, and love it.

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