What is a Washington apple made of?

Apples are one of the most popular fruits grown in the United States, with over 100 varieties ranging from sweet to tart. Washington apples make up approximately 75% of the entire U.S. apple crop. With their distinctive red and green skin, Washington apples are prized for their sweet-tart flavor and crisp texture. But what exactly are Washington apples made of that makes them so delicious?

The Origins of Washington Apples

Washington apples get their name from the U.S. state where they are primarily grown – Washington. Washington has the ideal climate for apple cultivation, with warm sunny days and cool evenings. The state’s rich volcanic soil also provides excellent drainage and nutrients for apple trees.

The original Washington apple is the Red Delicious, discovered in the 1870s on the farm of Jesse Hiatt in Peru, Iowa. Hiatt mailed samples of the seedling apples to Stark Brothers Nurseries, who were impressed with the new variety’s sweetness and vibrant red color. They purchased the rights to the apple and promoted it across the country under the name “Stark Delicious”, which was later shortened to Red Delicious.

Red Delicious promotional campaigns led it to become the most widely grown apple variety in Washington by the 1920s. Other varieties like Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji were also planted in Washington orchards. But the Red Delicious remains the signature apple of Washington.

Washington Apple Varieties

Today there are over 30 popular apple varieties grown in Washington, originating from all over the world. Some of the most common Washington apple varieties include:

Variety Flavor Texture Best Use
Red Delicious Sweet Crisp Snacking, salads
Golden Delicious Sweet-tart Crisp, juicy Snacking, baking, salads
Granny Smith Tart Crisp Cooking, baking
Fuji Sweet Crisp Snacking
Gala Sweet Crisp Snacking, salads
Honeycrisp Sweet-tart Crisp, juicy Snacking

Each variety has a unique flavor profile and texture that makes it ideal for different uses like snacking, baking, or making applesauce. The wide range of Washington apples to choose from allows consumers to find their perfect match.

Apple Tree Cultivation

So how do apple growers in Washington state produce such bountiful crops of gorgeous, delicious apples? It starts with caring for the apple trees.

Most Washington apples are grown on dwarf rootstock, meaning the trees are grafted onto roots that limit their size to 6-8 feet tall. This makes harvesting much easier. The trees are planted 8-10 feet apart in neat rows to maximize space.

Fertilizers and nutrients are added to the soil to promote tree growth and fruit production. Pest management is handled using integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, which focus on prevention and natural methods before resorting to pesticide sprays. This helps produce clean, high-quality fruit.

Once the apples begin to mature in early Fall, growers meticulously hand-thin the clusters to ensure ideal apple size and quality. Apples are picked by hand once they reach optimal color and sweetness. Then they are stored in controlled atmosphere rooms to be enjoyed year round.

apple growth stages

Apples go through distinct growth phases from bloom to harvest:

Stage Timing Description
Bloom April – May clusters of white or light pink flowers bloom, bees pollinate
Fruit set May – June Flowers are pollinated and small green apples begin to form
Cell division June – July Apple cells rapidly divide as fruit expands
Cell enlargement July – August Apples grow to mature size
Maturity August – September Apples ripen and develop optimal sweetness and color
Harvest August – November Apples are picked by hand once fully mature

Careful watering, fertilization, and pest control through each stage results in the highest quality Washington apples.

Apple Composition

When you bite into a delicious Washington apple, you’re enjoying the combined taste and health benefits of these essential components:


Water makes up around 84% of an apple’s composition. This high water content is what gives apples their refreshing, juicy crunch.


Apples contain simple sugars like fructose, sucrose, and glucose, which contribute sweetness. The sugar content increases as the apple ripens. Red Delicious apples have the highest sugar content of popular varieties.


Around 17% of the fiber found in apples comes from pectin, a soluble fiber that helps promote digestive health.

Vitamins & Minerals

Apples provide vitamin C, potassium, and smaller amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin K, and folate.


Compounds like quercetin, epicatechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid have antioxidant effects that benefit health.


Malic acid and lower levels of citric and ascorbic acid give apples their tart taste that balances sweetness.

Nutrient Per 1 medium apple
Calories 95
Total fat 0.3 g
Sodium 2 mg
Potassium 195 mg
Total carbs 25 g
Dietary fiber 4.4 g
Sugars 19 g
Vitamin C 8.4 mg

Picking the Perfect Washington Apple

With so many types of Washington apples to enjoy, which one is right for you? Here are some tips for picking great-tasting Washington apples:

  • Choose apples that feel firm with no bruises or wrinkles. Avoid mushy soft spots.
  • Pick apples by variety based on your flavor preferences – tart, sweet, or balanced.
  • For baking, go for firmer, tart apples like Granny Smith that hold their shape.
  • Snacking apples should be sweeter like Fuji, Gala, or Honeycrisp.
  • Look for bold, bright color indicating ripeness. Green still means underripe.
  • Smaller apples tend to be crisper while larger ones are milder.
  • For recipes specifying “apples” you can’t go wrong with versatile Golden Delicious.

Storing apples properly will help them last for weeks, so you can have Washington apples on hand whenever you get a craving.


With their signature crunch and balanced sweet-tart flavor, it’s easy to see why Washington apples are among the most popular in the world. Their diverse range of uses from snacking to baking makes them a versatile fruit the whole family can enjoy. Washington apple growers have perfected the art of cultivating the highest quality apples, from soil management to careful harvesting. So when you sink your teeth into a Washington apple, you’re tasting decades of orchard expertise in producing apples with that signature zing.

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