Pink Pearl

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Fruit Fact: Pink Pearl, a variety of apples

Albert Etter's most famous apple, a tart yet sweet pink fleshed Summer apple with translucent yellow skin that reveals the pink interior.

Variety Background:

Most Common Name: Pink Pearl
Species: malus domestica
Origin: An open-pollinated seedling of Surprise selected by Albert Etter in 1944. Etter selected it from a number of Surprise seedlings to be sold in his nursery catalog. It has remained the one variety widely available in all the catalogs.
Patents or Trademarks: None


Description: Medium to large, round to slightly conical apple with pale yellow, almost cream colored skin that is translucent, so that when the interior flesh turns pink, the pink shines through, giving it a dramatic pinkish-orange hue, which also signals that the fruit is ripe.

Flavor and tasting notes: The firm but melting pink flesh starts out brisk and tart early in the season, but fully tree ripened specimens later have enough sweetness to balance out a little of the sharpness. Strong berry flavor, mostly strong hints of strawberries, slightly perfumy, aromatic when cut open. Over-ripe fruit eventually turn mealy, but only when fallen off the tree or in storage.


Very well adapted to California, insensitive to lack of chill, blooms around the time gravenstein blooms, and does well pretty much in all climates from the hot Central Valley all the way to cool foggy San Francisco. Not considered to be hardy so may not be suitable for the upper midwest and Central Canada.

Bloom Time Rating: F12

Growth Habit:

Semi- vigorous, upright growing tree, best shaped with a main central leader for a nice pyramidal shape, doesn't get very large. Very low maintenance tree, on MM-111, peters out at about 8-10 feet without any pruning.

Vigor: T2

Harvest, storage and consumption:

In California, pink pearls ripen alongside gravensteins for about the same length of time, from early to the middle of August. In colder climates, it blooms later and becomes a September ripening apple. Incredibly prolific producer, thinning leads to larger fruit, however, it does not have a biennial bearing tendency, even if not thinned. (The GRIN database says it's "strongly biennial", however, we have not found this to be true.) Stores about the same as gravensteins, into early October at the latest.

Begin of Harvest: early Aug
End of Harvest: mid Aug
Stores Until: early Oct


Mostly a processing apple, but can serve as a tart and brisk dessert apple for those who like sharp apples. A real winner in the kitchen. makes pink colored apple cider that tastes like strawberry, not just because of the color, but because it really does taste like it has strawberry in it. Also makes delicious pink colored apple sauce, and when minced looks and tastes great in all sorts of salads.

Eating: Yes
Cooking: Yes
Cider: Yes


Relatively resistant to scab, highly susceptible to fireblight, but in California blooms so early that it is rarely affected due to the prevailing cool conditions. Always infected with coddling moths, even on light years.

Scab Susceptibility: Medium
Fire Blight Susceptibility: High
Powdery Mildew Susceptibility: Unknown
Cedar Apple Rust Susceptibility: Unknown
Black Rot Susceptibility: Unknown
Phytopthera Rots Susceptibility: Unknown
Fly Speck Susceptibility: Unknown
Coddling Moth Susceptibility: High

Nurseries that carry this variety:

Readily available in many nurseries, Dave Wilson propagates it hence usually part of the California local nursery bare rootstock lineup in January.

Trees of Antiquity

Photo Gallery

This picture shows the dramatic look of the flesh, which is deepest pink/red right under the skin. A half bitten into pink pearl looks far more dramatic than one cut open (c) The Cloudforest Gardener


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