Waiting for Fall’s Gold Rush

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Honeycrisp may be the apple of the moment, but the apple of my eye is the GoldRush, a late-maturing variety that isn’t ready to pick until the end of October. Bright yellow, lightly speckled, with a deep rose—almost russet—blush, GoldRush is one gorgeous apple. Its ivory-colored flesh is firm and dense—so dense that when I tried using an apple corer to slice one it broke the plastic frame of the thing. When you bite into a GoldRush you get a mouthful of juice and a burst of spicy, sweet-tart flavor, plus an acidic kick. A gold rush, if you will. There’s a winey intensity to it that I’ve tasted in no other apple.

I would like to say that GoldRush’s provenance is romantic, that it sprang from a seed that was once upon a time scattered along the Ohio Valley by Johnny Appleseed himself.  But in spite of its alluring heirloom looks and evocative name, the GoldRush is a product of modern day horticulture, a creation of the cooperative breeding program of Purdue University, Rutgers University, and the University of Illinois. Here’s how the program’s web site describes the apple’s origins:

“The original seedling was planted in May 1973 in the HE block on the Purdue Horticulture Research Farm, West Lafayette, Ind., where its position was row 4, tree 16 (HER4T 16) and had the designation PRI 27506 in our breeding records. The seedling is derived from a cross made in 1972 at Urbana, Ill., of ‘Golden Delicious’ as the seed parent with Co-op 17 (PRI 1689-110) as the pollen parent.” (Co-op 17 was itself an experimental apple, derived from no fewer than eight varieties, including (but not limited to) Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, and Melrose.)

Soooo romantic. But then, Honeycrisp is also a product of a breeding program (University of Minnesota), as are many other tasty apples, including Pink Lady, an Australian cultivar; and Fuji, which was developed in Japan. In fact, it’s hard to find an apple in the wild that is good enough to eat. The fruit has been cultivated since Roman times, and most apples, whether developed in a university breeding program or grown in someone’s backyard, are propagated by grafting rather than from seed.

I have yet to see GoldRush in a supermarket produce bin, so look for it at farmers’ markets. My local source is Twin Springs Fruit Farm, which has stands at numerous farmers’ markets in Maryland, D.C., and northern Virginia. Aubrey from Twin Springs says it will be another couple of weeks before the apple is available, so be sure keep an eye out for it.

In addition to being a great munching apple, GoldRush is an excellent apple to pair with cheese, particularly cow’s milk cheeses, from buttery brie types to crumbly aged cheddars. It’s also a good pie apple, especially when combined with other apples for a variety of textures and flavors, and it is delicious mixed with pears in this Harvest Crostata.

Do you have a favorite apple? Tell me about it.

More on apples: I came across this appreciation of the wild apple by Henry David Thoreau, from the November 1862 issue of The Atlantic. It’s quite lengthy, obviously written at a time when we had longer attention spans! But it’s a wonderful essay and glimpse back at foraging in an earlier time. It is also prescient. Towards the end of the essay, Thoreau writes, “The era of the Wild Apple will soon be past…Since the temperance reform and the general introduction of grafted fruit, no native apple-trees, such as I see everywhere in deserted pastures, and where the woods have grown up around them, are set out. I fear that he who walks over these fields a century hence will not know the pleasure of knocking off wild apples. Ah, poor man, there are many pleasures which he will not know!”

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13 Responses to Waiting for Fall’s Gold Rush

  1. AdriBarr October 17, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    How I love discovering something new! Your description of the Gold Rush variety makes me want to go out and find some. I am pleased to hear that a modern day variety has lots of taste. I remember about thirty years ago when we first enjoyed Fuji apples, straight from Japan. We were all thrilled with their huge size and remarkable snap and juiciness.

    So often today fruits and vegetables are bred with an eye toward lengthening their life once picked, a proposition that often leads to great sacrifice in the taste department. I hope Gold Rush apples will be available here in southern California. I will have to do some detective work. Thanks for the introduction.

    • Domenica October 22, 2012 at 9:40 am #

      I hope you’re able to find them, Adri. They’re really good. Also, they last a long, LONG time in the fruit drawer of the fridge ~ through the winter, in fact. I always stock up on them right before my farmers’ market shuts down for the winter.

      As always, thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comments.

  2. Laura (Tutti Dolci) October 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    I’ve never tried GoldRush apples but the sound delicious!

  3. Frank @Memorie di Angelina October 18, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I’m a big fan of Honeycrisp but I had no idea that they were ‘in’. Will have to keep an eye out for GoldRush. Sounds like it has just the kind of taste and texture that I look for in an apple.

  4. ciaochowlinda October 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Goldrush apples are new to me too, but now I’ll be looking for them at the market. Glad to know they’re good for a crostata.

  5. nancy baggett October 19, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    I love this story–it’s exactly the kind of information I like to dig up and post myself, though I admit I’m not familiar with the GoldRush apple at all. I do love the Honeycrisp and posted on how lovely it came out when I comparison tested some baked apples last year. Your photo is also really enticing.

    • Domenica October 22, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Thanks Nancy. BTW, any chance you can post the link to you Honeycrisp post here? I’d love to read it. Thanks!

  6. Domenica October 22, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Interesting…Judging by everyone’s comments, it sounds like GoldRush is still relatively unknown. I’m glad I was able to bring a bit of well-deserved attention to it. I hope you all have an opportunity to try it sometime.

  7. Dave November 6, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    I completely agree with your description, Domenica, and I get my Gold Rush from the same wonderful source. My wife doesn’t care for them, because they’re so hard to bite into, but that just means more for me. They’re better keepers than honeycrisp, too. Thank God for Twin Springs Fruit Farm!

    • Domenica November 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

      Thanks Dave. Yes, TGFTSFF! I have had GoldRush apples last all winter long in the fruit bin of my fridge. I love to put them in apple crostata. I think I might try frying apple rings as a side dish to pork chops (which I get from the Valentine Country Market stall ~ awesome).

      Cheers and thanks for your comment.

  8. Cressida McKean November 6, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I am already a fan of Twin Springs and GoldRush, and would like to get emails of your new posts as your cookbooks sound great. Cressida

    • Domenica November 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

      Many thanks Cressida. I am an inconsistent poster (as any regular reader of this blog will tell you). But I’d love for you to stay in touch. The best way is to click on the gold-colored envelope icon at the top right of my home page, right beneath the video.


  9. Jamie November 25, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    One rarely thinks about the provenance of their fruit. Last year, I doscovered that the Comice pear was “created” in the city of Angers, an hour from Nantes. And your Gold Rush apple will one day be history and there will be a plaque up where it was first created just like the Comice.

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