Looking for green apples? It seems most apples are red, or have red patches or stripes. While immature apples have green peels, its a rare apple that remains green when ripe!
Green apples come from only a few specific apple varieties. Green apple varieties include heirloom apples Granny Smith, Rhode Island Greening, and Newtown Pippin, as well as modern introductions such as Shamrock, Smeralda, and Crispin. The green peel (and lack of red colouration) is also affected by environmental factors like temperature and sunlight.
There are some wonderful green apples out there to enjoy! Read on to learn all about green apple varieties.
“Pigmentation in the skin of apple fruit varies among different cultivars and is influenced by environmental factors, including temperature conditions and the level of sunlight irradiation.”Anthocyanin Biosynthesis in Apple Fruit, The Horticulture Journal 87(3), 2018, by Chikako Honda and Shigeki Moriya
1. Granny Smith (The Classic Green Apple)
The Granny Smith is the classic tart green apple variety. These sharp and juicy tart apples are beloved the world over, both for eating fresh and for using in baking like apple pies and crisps. They’re also very popular for juicing and for dipping and appetizer trays.
Granny Smith apples have a true green-colored peel and light greenish-white flesh. These are large apples with a classic tart apple flavor. Granny Smith is known for its bold, acidic tartness which could almost be described as sour.
Discovered in Australia, Granny Smith apple trees grow best in warmer regions with long growing seasons. Granny Smith apples are grown all over the US, including Washington, New York, Michigan, and California. You can even grow your own Granny Smith green apples!
Warm temperatures, especially in the fall, tend to suppress an apple’s ability to create red pigment. Green Granny Smith apples grown in cool climates may develop a bit of pink-red blush in years with cold fall nights and clear autumn days.
“Everything about Granny Smith is GREEN. The skin color. The flesh color. The flavor. Even the juice has a green tint.”Apples Of Uncommon Character: 123 Heirlooms, Modern Classics, & Little-Known Wonders, by Rowan Jacobsen
2. Newtown Pippin Heirloom Apples
Newtown Pippin is a popular, all-American green apple from New York City. This apple has a smooth peel, often with a bit of gold russeting on it. The peel is a true green when freshly picked, but matures to a yellow as the apple becomes sweeter in storage. The peel tends to be more green in cool years and cool climates, and more yellow in warmer conditions.
Newtown Pippin green apples can be found in specialty markets and orchards, or you can grow your own Newtown Pippin apple tree. Both the individual apples and the apple trees are generally more expensive than Granny Smith simply because Newtown Pippin trees are so much more rare.
The Newtown Pippin is most commonly used as a dessert apple for baking in classic American apple pies and crisps. It has an incredibly rich flavor with a lovely tart acidity. Sweeter, well-ripened fruit is sometimes eaten fresh, especially on cheese boards as a unique, American, heritage variety apple.
3. Rhode Island Greening (American Heirloom Green Apple)
Rhode Island Greening is a firm, tart green apple. A true American heirloom variety, Rhode Island Greening apples have a vibrant tart flavor that can be almost citrusy. The yellow-green flesh is dense and can be quite juicy in good years.
Rhode Island Greening apples are mainly sold at specialty markets and orchards on the east coast of the US. They can be used in any recipe that calls for Granny Smith apples, including apple pie and tart green applesauce. Think of Rhode Island Greening as an old-school American predecessor to Granny Smith (with perhaps more complex flavour).
4. Pound Sweet (Sweet, Green Apples)
Pound Sweet is a soft, sweet green apple. An heirloom from Connecticut, Pound Sweet apples are particularly large and have shiny bright green skin. These apples could easily be mistaken for a Granny Smith by appearance, but have almost no tart acidity in their flavor.
Pound Sweet apples are available mainly in the USA, where they’re most commonly used to make apple butter. This specialty apple is rarely found in commercial orchard operations, but can sometimes be found at local family-run orchards and farmers markets.
5. Shamrock Apple (Tart, Green Apple)
Shamrock Apples are crisp, tart, green apples. Well-ripened fruits may have a small red blush patch, but most Shamrock apples have a true green peel. The flesh inside is a pale green colour. These apples are great to eat fresh (for sour-apple lovers), or to use to make tart green applesauce.
Shamrock Apples were bred in British Columbia, Canada by crossing the classic red-green McIntosh with the sweet and juicy Golden Delicious. This specialty variety has limited availability and doesn’t store well, so look for it at farmers markets from late September through to November. It’s most unfortunate that Shamrock apples generally don’t store until St. Patrick’s Day!
“In a UK study, consumers associated red apples with sweet sensory descriptors and green apples with grassy, astringent and drying, acidic, sour sensory, or unripe descriptors.”Anthocyanins in Apple Fruit and Their Regulation for Health Benefits, by Kaori Matsuoka, IntechOpen
6. Smeralda Apples (Italian Emerald Apples)
Smeralda is a new sweet-tart green apple developed in Italy. Smeralda is similar to Granny Smith, but was bred to be sweeter, resistant to disease, and earlier to ripen in the fall. While current availability is limited, this new variety is poised to become one of the most popular green apples out there!
Smeralda apples were bred in the Northern region of Italy, close to Venice. They are named after the Costa Smeralda area on the Italian island of Sardinia, which translates to “Emerald Coast”. Think of the Smeralda apple as the “Emerald Apple”!
“The fruit is medium-large with a smooth, uniform green color. The fine, crispy, juicy, pleasant flesh is yellow with an excellent flavour, feeling fresh in the mouth because of its high sugar content and elevated acidity. The taste is similar to ‘Granny Smith’ but sweeter and more fragrant.”Apple tree named ‘Smeralda’, US Patent USPP24137P3 (Filed 2011)
7. Crispin (Mutsu) Green-Yellow Japanese Apples
Crispin (Mutsu) apples are sweet and crunchy, with a green-yellow colour to their peel. In particularly crisp autumns, they can sometimes even have a small orange patch of blush. These apples are sweeter than many other green apples, but still retain that lovely, satisfying crunch in texture.
The green-yellow peel likely comes from one of its parent apples, the Golden Delicious. This green-yellow variety has a lovely sweet, honeyed, flavour that the Crispin shares. The Crispin/Mutsu is, however, more crisp and crunchy than Golden Delicious, and is a very satisfying fresh-eating apple.
8. Lodi Apple (Pale Green Peel)
Lodi Apples are tart apples with a pale green peel and soft ivory flesh. While there is a bit of sweetness to the flavour, Lodi apples are decidedly tart! The velvety smooth, fine, tender texture and sharp, acidic flavour makes this an excellent apple for baking and cooking.
Lodi apples were bred in New York State using the Yellow Transparent variety, which helps to make them early to mature in the autumn. Lodi apples are often available 6-8 weeks before fresh, new-crop Granny Smiths. They’re a great pick for pies and applesauce, especially before the later-maturing green apple varieties are available.
9. Tolman Sweet Green Apples
Tolman Sweet apples are medium-sized green heirloom apples with a truly sweet flavor. The flesh is crisp and dry but not tangy. These apples can turn a bit yellow in storage, so enjoy them when they’re fresh and green!
Discovered in Massachusetts several hundred years ago, this American heritage apple is only available from specialty orchards in late September to November. Tolman Sweet green apples are wonderful fresh, baked, or made into naturally-sweet applesauce.
10. Aurora Apple (Golden-Green Peel)
Aurora apples are a sweet, golden-green specialty apple. Known by their full name, the “Aurora Golden Gala”, these pale green apples are among the best tasting varieties for eating fresh, straight from the orchard. The Aurora Golden Gala is grown only in the Okanagan Valley (Canada) and Washington State, but its worth searching out!
Aurora apples are crispy yet sweet, with a complex but delicate flavour. A cross between the ever-popular Gala apple and the New Zealand favourite Splendour, they can be thought of like a golden-green coloured Gala apple. The green-yellow colour likely comes from its Splendour parent, which is thought to be descended from the Golden Delicious apple.
“Origin: ‘8S6923’ resulted from a cross between the seed parent ‘Splendour’ and the pollen parent ‘Gala’ made at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC), Summerland, BC by D. Lane and R. MacDonald in 1981.”‘8S6923’ (Aurora Golden Gala) Apple, HortScience 40(1): 251-253. 2005.
11. Ashmead’s Kernel Apple
Ashmead’s Kernel is an heirloom, tart green-golden russet-type apple from England. The peel ripens from a pale green to almost a tarnished brass colour. These apples are generally placed in storage for a month or two before being eaten to help them get a bit sweeter (they’re quite sour when first picked!).
Ashmead’s Kernel apples are most commonly used as a specialty heirloom for eating fresh or for making specialty apple juice and apple cider. Like some other russeted varieties, they have a citrus-like nutty flavour that’s worth searching out!
12. Duke of Devonshire
Duke of Devonshire apples are green-golden tart and fruity russeted apple. Possibly descended from Ashmead’s Kernel, this old British type is a favourite for apple juice and cider. Like Ashmead’s Kernel, the Duke of Devonshire apple benefits from a few months in storage before use. The flavour becomes sweeter and more complex (nutty, fruity) with storage.
13. Egremont Russet
Egremont Russet apples are an English russeted apple with a green-gold-brown peel. Like other russet-type apples of its day, it tends to be juicy, nutty, crisp, and tart. Aged Eremont Russet apples tend to be a bit sweeter than Duke of Devonshire and Ashmead’s Kernel variety apples (but also still have quite a bit of tart acidity!).
14. Zabergau Reinette
Zabergau Reinette is an heirloom green-golden russeted apple from Germany. It looks almost like a round under-ripe potato, but has a lovely, subtle sweet nutty flavour. While its sweetness is somewhat mild, Zabergau Reinette is among the sweetest russet-type apples.
15. Ananas Reinette
Ananas Reinette is a tart heirloom yellow-green apple from the Netherlands. While these apples have the classic green apple sour taste, they can sometimes have a truly tropical flavor when ripened on the tree. Properly ripened, these little green apples can taste like bananas, pineapples, and apples all rolled into one fruit.
16. Antonovka Green Apples
Antonovka is an heirloom tart green apple developed in Russia over a hundred years ago. This sour green apple has a strong tart acidity, but also a nice fruity flavour. Its crisp white flesh becomes sweeter in storage. Some fruits show some gold-bronze russeting around the stem, but others have yellow-green peels.
17. Shizuka Apple
The Shizuka apple is a green apple from Japan that’s a sibling to the Mutsu/Crispin. Like the Mutsu, the Shizuka is a pale green-yellow colour (likely from its Golden Delicious parent) with a lovely sweet taste and crisp texture. Some fruits have a slight orange blush or some russeting around the stem. Shizuku apples can be a little hard to find, but can be just as lovely as their Crispin siblings.
18. Golden Delicious
Golden Delicious is a very sweet American heritage apple with a yellow-green peel. These apples are generally a pale green colour at harvest time and mature to a golden-yellow during winter storage. The Golden Delicious is an excellent all-round apple, and is the parent apple to some of today’s sweetest modern apple varieties.
19. Ginger Gold
Ginger Gold apples are small yellow-green apples that tend to ripen quite early in the season. Ginger Gold was discovered in the US as a chance seedling, and is likely a direct descendent of the Golden Delicious. Fortunately for sweet green apple lovers, the Ginger Gold apple is ready for harvest several weeks before the larger Golden Delicious fruits!
20. Grimes Golden
Grimes Golden is a sweet-crisp American heirloom apple variety from West Virginia. Great for eating fresh or for use in apple juices and apple cider, the Grimes Golden is a favourite of apple connoisseurs. It has a coarse but crisp texture with a sharp acidity offset with just the right amount of unexpected sugary sweetness. The Grimes Golden is thought to be a parent apple of the wildly-popular Golden Delicious apple.
“Here’s an apple with an American pedigree: It was a chance seedling discovered in 1804 near a Brooke County, West Virginia, cider mill and orchard that had been established by Johnny Appleseed himself. The finder was Thomas Grimes, and he got to keep the naming rights.”The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, by Amy Traverso
21. Golden Noble
Golden Noble is a tart English cooking apple used mainly for applesauce and British recipes that call for pureed apples. These apples are a light green colour, turning to a yellow-green as they ripen. Golden Noble is a popular backyard apple variety in the UK.
Honeygold is a greenish-gold all-round apple developed by the University of Minnesota. It’s a bit like a green version of a Honeycrisp, although its taste is more like a Golden Delicious (one of its parents). These trees are very cold hardy and the apples may develop a bit of a rosy-bronze blush in years with especially cool autumn nights.
23. Twenty Ounce Pippin
Twenty Ounce Pippin is a large green apple with a mild tart flavor. This American heirloom is most commonly used for applesauce or for making dried apple chips. While not the strongest-tasting green apple, the Twenty Ounce Pippin is among the largest!
24. Calville Blanc d’Hiver French Green Apples
Calville Blanc d’Hiver is an heirloom French green apple used in classic french baking recipes. This heritage variety is pale green and generally a bit lumpy. Calville Blanc d’Hiver is a favourite cooking apple of French chefs and is gaining popularity as an apple pie apple in the US.
Grenadier is a tart green English heritage cooking apple with tender flesh. The light green peel turns a green-yellow shade as the fruit ripens, and the inner flesh is also tinged with a light green hue. Grenadier apples are most commonly used in applesauce or pureed apple applications such as apple butter.
26. Manks Codlin Green Apples
Manks Codlin is a tart, firm green cooking apple from the Isle of Man. These apples are bright green, and sometimes develop a few red blush patches when temperatures dip substantially in autumn. This hardy green apple has yellow-green flesh.
27. Pink Pearl Apples
Pink Pearl is a sweet-tart apple with a dusty grey-green peel that camouflages truly vibrant pink flesh. This apple is the perfect surprise for those who like their apples a little bit different. They’re a bit hard to find, but they’ll be the center of attention on your appetizer board!