An apple may be the go-to gift for teachers, but just like the group of streetwise girls in Grease they share their name with, Pink Lady apples really are too cool for school.
Of the more than 7,500 apple verities out there, these babies are the only ones considered pure enough to be pink. And that’s not their only standout quality.
Where Did Pink Lady Apples Come From
Pink Lady apples weren’t just the first officially pink apple on the market—they were the first to protect their perfectly rosy reputation in the form of a trademarked name. And who could blame their creator for wanting to put his stamp on something so lovely looking?
Like many of the world’s most beautiful things, Pink Lady apples got their start in exotic Australia. Their clever creator was a man named John Cripps, who first grew the glamorous fruits at his Western Australia farm in the 1990s.
In fact, the cultivar was—and sometimes still is—referred to as Cripps Pink. But once the man himself registered for the rights to the Pink Lady name, they took on their more delicate persona.
Not that the process of acquiring the name was a gentle affair. In fact, Cripps spent years fighting for the rights to the name, since a number of cultivars had also been courting the title, albeit without the legal paperwork to back it up.
Still, after a years long battle, Cripps was able to claim the Pink Lady crown. He began shipping the cultivars out under the pretty name, and in no time, their charm won over millions of fans.
What Do Pink Lady Apples Taste Like
It’s not just the perfectly pink skin that gets these apples attention, however. Pink Lady apples also have a particular taste to them—the result of the especially finicky gardening process used to bring them about.
Ultra-specific factors like the amount of room between Pink Lady trees and the number of branches left to grow are used to ensure each bud gets its fair share of sunlight. And Pink Lady apples spend an impressive 200 days growing from their branches, to ensure they leech as many taste-developing nutrients out of their trees as possible.
It all leads up to a fruit with a strangely satisfying combination of tart and sweet, with the apples presenting as sugary at first blush before their flavor matures as acid is released through chewing.
The dual nature of the apple’s flavor profile may also come from its parents. The Pink Lady is the offspring of two distinctly different types of apple: The Australian Lady Williams varietal and the American classic Golden Delicious. And while the combination could have gone any number of routes, thankfully the fruits lent only their best genes to their pretty pink protégé.
How to Eat Pink Lady Apples
Dining with a lady may sound intimidating, but Pink Lady apples can be enjoyed in all sorts of atmospheres.
In fact, the fruit is often best enjoyed fresh, thanks to its brilliant crunch and juicy bite. But the “dessert apple” is also known for holding up under pressure, which makes its flesh the best kind for baking, as the Pink Lady will maintain not just its distinct taste but its satisfying texture through the cooking process.
Yet, even with the lovely Pink Lady apple, it’s not just what’s on the outside that counts. The apple’s interior is slow to oxidize, meaning it can maintain its crunch and nice white color much longer than most other apples. This neat trick has made the Pink Lady not just a popular star of pies and tarts, but a great go-to for charcuterie boards, salads, sandwiches, and any thoughtful manufacturer that may want to sell apples pre-sliced.
How to Pick the Perfect Pink Lady Apple
Yet despite its popularity, the persnickety nature of the Pink Lady can make the apples quite expensive, or hard to come by.
That’s thanks in no small part to the Pink Lady’s preferred climate, which is much warmer than the average apple’s. As such, the fruits are typically grown in hot-weather hot spots like South Africa, Southern Europe, and their native Australia.
They bloom mid-season, putting them at their peak around May in the Southern Hemisphere, though the few Northern Hemisphere spots that cultivate the sun-loving apple get their crop in October or early November. So if you’re looking for the freshest fruit you can find, you should pay attention to the sticker on the apple and the time of the year.
Like many of their apple-cheeked cousins, though, Pink Ladies store exceptionally well, meaning they can be shipped and stored relatively easily, and left out to market all year long. So when sorting through the garden variety in the off-peak season, make sure to look for an example that’s not too banged up and is still sporting the perfect pink. (Too many yellow spots means the apple didn’t quite reach its peak before it was picked.)
Still, with their beautiful pallet, versatility and unique taste, we think the extra legwork is worth it. And finding just the right Pink Lady bite will leave you ticked the perfect shade of light red.