Empire Apples: A Shiny Red American Heirloom Apple

There are so many types of apples, it can easily be hard to keep track of them all! One of the varieties of apples that is unique is the Empire Apple. That being said, what is it that makes the Empire Apple so special?

Empire Apple is a shiny red American apple cultivar known for its attractive appearance and general hardiness. This type of apple sets itself apart with its unique sweet and tart flavor combo, and it has a remarkable ability to withstand bruising, making it especially perfect for a lunch on the go! Empire Apple was bred at the Geneva NY at Cornell University in the 1940s.

Empire Apples have a fun story behind them, and they have a lot to offer in several different ways. Let’s take a deeper look into the ins and outs of Empire Apples!

Empire Apples

Empire Apples: The Basics

The Empire Apple was bred by Dr. Roger Way several decades ago. Back in the 1940’s, at Cornell University, he decided to try an experiment as part of the Geneva breeding program. They combined the McIntosh Apple and the Red Delicious Apple, and the Empire Apple was created!

Even though it first came about in the 1940s, it didn’t become commercially available until the year 1966. It was decidedly named the Empire Apple as a reference to the state it was created in, the Empire State: New York!

The combination of the sweet and tart flavors in an Empire Apple really sets it apart and makes it incredibly unique. Most other apples don’t have the dynamic duo of the sour and sugary flavor blend.

The Empire Apple also happens to have a really pretty appearance. The Empire Apple is medium in size when compared to other varieties of apples. The majority of its skin is red, but there is a section that is green in color. Diagonal from the green section is where the red color of the apple is the darkest, deepest, and richest. There are little elements of green seemingly underneath the red.

Empire Apples
Empire Apples

What Empire Apples Taste Like

On a scale with one side representing a super tart flavor (or in other words, the rating of a 1 on the scale would mean incredibly tart and bitter) and the other side taking the stance of sweet flavor (meaning placing the rating as a 10 on the scale would imply and suggest a sweet taste), the Empire Apple would probably score around a 4 or possibly a 4.5.

It isn’t overly bitter but has a distinct tartiness to it, and, although it has some sweetness, it certainly isn’t as sweet as some other fruits may be. However, even though it has a bit of a tart flavor to it, the Empire apple still manages to be juicy, ripe, and crisp.

Where Empire Apples Are Grown

Interestingly, Empire Apples differ from other apples in where they grow. California is a huge producer of fresh fruit and vegetables, apples included. Where the state of Washington is along the west coast and isn’t far from California, Washington happens to have an incredibly large apple production industry. However, Empire Apples are unique and they grow in the northeast part of the United States, particularly in New York. In fact, New York has a fairly large apple production system, and roughly sixty percent of the apples it sends out are Empire Apples. When looking at national apple production as a whole, Empire apples account for about two percent of apples produced.

Empire Apples - cost at the market

The Cost to Purchase Empire Apples

Empire Apples cost about 50 cents each. Empire Apples are usually available for purchase in the months of fall and sometimes through early winter. Ten pounds of apples sells for about 20 dollars.

Harvest Season For Empire Apples

Depending on the location where they are being grown, the harvest season for Empire Apples is typically in the fall and reaches its prime at the end of September and early October.

Empire Apples on the tree

How To Grow Empire Apples

Another nice perk with Empire Apples is that they are incredibly easy to grow. The trees that Empire Apples grow on are really sturdy and don’t require heavy labor for their upkeep. As for the apples themselves, they have a nice appealing appearance, and they also are a bit on the heavier side.

When they were designed and engineered, they were made to be able to avoid falling before becoming ripe enough to pick and eat. The engineering further made it so they won’t have Fireblight, which is a disease that plagues the category of fruit the Empire Apples is in.

Make sure the tree is in an area with hardiness between 4 and 7, and that the soil drains efficiently.

The Time Frame for Storing Empire Apples

Summer months aren’t good for storing Empire Apples, and the harvest season is in the fall. As a result, it is between November through April that Empire Apples can be stored.

Empire Apples

The Best Recipes With Empire Apples

Empire apples are most commonly used in baking (particularly baking pies), added with salads, used as an ingredient in sauces (namely, applesauce), or munched on as a solo thing for a tasty treat and snack. Where Empire Apples can be dried, sautéd, or roasted, there is a wide variety of cooking options with them!

A fun tip when adding Empire Apples to a salad is to place the apple in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and water. That type of apple already has the remarkable ability to resist bruising, and utilizing the lemon juice trick with salads will keep the inner part of the apple slice white for even longer!

As for other fresh options, some pair them with cheese, pumpkin, coleslaw, pears, or chicken salad. The best spices to pair with Empire Apples are nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.

The Empire Apple is especially handy for a child’s school lunch. They enjoy the crunch, the sweet and tart flavor combination, and the bruise-resistant design. These apples also freeze pretty well so you can use them in the future.

Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane is a home gardener who loves creating healthy, welcoming spaces (indoors and out!) - About Mary Jane (https://www.homefortheharvest.com/authors/about-mary-jane-duford/)

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