All About Pink Lady Apples


Pink Lady apples in someone's handsOriginally published April 2017

Say hello to the gorgeous Pink Lady® apple! Pink Lady® apples are hard to miss when viewing at the grocery store. Their gorgeous pink coloring and perfectly round shape would make any apple lover do a doubletake. So what is this lady apple all about? What is her story? Let’s dive in!

What do Pink Lady® apples taste like?

This sweet-tart apple has high sugars and high acids with a crisp bite and effervescent finish. It tends to fall more towards the tart side than sweet but is oh so refreshing! It has a beautiful, bright white flesh that is slow to oxidize (in other words, slow to brown) making it a wonderful apple to entertain with. This apple is also one of the main varieties used for pre-packaged apple slices. The Pink Lady® apple is extremely versatile and can be used for baking, snacking, salads, pairing, or for sauce.

Try this Apple Coffee Cake or this Harvest Buddha Bowl, which both feature Pink Lady® apples!

Where did the Pink Lady® apple originate?

Pink Lady® apples were born down under in the 1970s under the cultivar name Cripps Pink (see below for more on the cultivar name!). A researcher named John Cripps, who worked for Western Australia’s Department of Agriculture, crossed the American classic Golden Delicious apple with a late-ripening and attractive red Australian apple called Lady Williams.  The result: a beautifully vibrant pink-skinned apple with a unique flavor that would become a fan favorite around the world. Pink Lady® made its way up to the USA in the late 1990s where Stemilt has been growing it ever since!

Where are Pink Lady® apples grown?

Pink Lady® apples are grown all over the world, but Stemilt grows them in Washington State, primarily in the central region of the state. Pink Lady® apples prefer environments that are hot, as this allows them to color beautifully. Stemilt decided that the Columbia Basin region (a region where many of their apple varieties grow) would be a perfect fit due its plentiful sunny, warm (sometimes hot) days, natural water sources and nutrient-rich volcanic soil. Pink Lady® has an incredibly long growing season – 200 days long! This variety is one of the first to blossom (around mid-April) along with our early-ripening variety, Rave® and the last to be harvested in mid-October.

Storing Pink Lady® Apples

Pink Lady® apples are a hardy apple and store very well in Controlled Atmosphere (CA) Storage. This allows us to have the variety around nearly year-round! The Pink Lady® apple is available from October through July and the season for organic Pink Lady® apples runs from October through June. To store any apple variety after purchase, it is best to keep them unwashed in the refrigerator just until prior to eating. Once you are ready to eat, give them a quick wash with cold water and enjoy!

Pink Lady apples with slices.Pink Lady® Apples was the first apple with a trademark!

Cripps Pink is the cultivar name, or name of the plant that grows Pink Lady® apples. Plants are patented to protect intellectual property, but because patents eventually run out, growers have opted to market them under a trademark, or brand name. Pink Lady® was the first apple to be awarded a trademarked name. Growers like Stemilt must obtain a license in order to grow, pack and market this apple variety under the Pink Lady® name. Apples that are sold under the Pink Lady® brand name must meet high-quality standards and every apple that goes to market as a Pink Lady® must meet criteria for sugar content, firmness, color and blemishes. Stemilt is proud to be one of the longest and leading growers of zippy Pink Lady® apples!

Other fun facts about Pink Lady® apples:

The apple is named after a cocktail! Apple breeder John Cripps loved the novel The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Montsarrat. In the book, the hero enjoys a cocktail called a “Pink Lady.”

It makes Pink Applesauce! Find the recipe here!

It pairs well with cheese varieties like Gorgonzola, Monterey Jack, Swiss or Emmental, Kasseri, and Port Salut!