Do Granny Smith Apples Ever Turn Red?

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Granny Smith is a classic apple variety, much-loved by people all across the globe. This widespread fame owes to its distinct flavor that is tangy and crisp to bite. The apples also stand out because of their classic green color. Since all red apples also start out green on the trees, we wonder whether Granny Smith apples ever turn red? Let us find out.

No, Granny Smith apples do not turn red. Apple varieties contain different pigments that help them change colors over the season. Granny Smith does not produce any red pigments at all. Thus, it always appears green in color.

What is this mysterious red pigment? If Granny Smith does not turn red, does it mean it never ripens? So many questions regarding this distinct apple variety, and we'll cover it all. If you'd like to learn more, keep reading ahead!

A basket full of granny smith apples, Do Granny Smith Apples Ever Turn Red?

What Kind of Apple Is Granny Smith?

Granny Smith apples are one of the tip-bearing varieties of apples and are green in color. Interestingly, a woman named Maria Smith stumbled upon its seedling by chance and discovered the breed known as Granny Smith now. Today, they are one of the most popular apple varieties in the US and are much-loved for their tart, vibrant flavor. 

A wooden box filled with newly harvested green apples

Why Do Apples Change Colors?

One automatically imagines apples as a ripe, red fruit with traces of green here and there. The question is, do they grow on trees just like that?

Apple skin contains different groups of pigments. The color of apples depends upon the concentration of these pigments at any given time. 

Let us first consider the first stage of apple growth. On an apple tree, an apple always grows green. The season for bloom is mostly summer when the sun shines longer, allowing plant leaves to produce chlorophyll constantly. Chlorophyll is the green pigment present in the apple cells that helps convert sunlight into energy. 

As winter approaches, the days gradually become shorter. Thus, chlorophyll formation is minimal, and a time comes when the trees can not make any more of the pigment. This is when other pigments from the apple come into action. 

The Mysterious Red Pigment

In the absence of chlorophyll, other pigments take up the opportunity to get in action. One such substance is Anthocyanins. These are the red pigments most commonly found in apples. They come to the surface during fall when the temperature is low and sunlight exposure is optimal.

This pigment is credible for the red color of apples. It's also responsible for the red color in other fruits like strawberries, cranberries, etc. 

Why Does Granny Smith Not Turn Red?

Granny Smith and other green apples do not turn red because they do not contain any red pigments in their composition. Additionally, chlorophyll very gradually breaks down in their leaves, allowing them to maintain the green color for long. 

When To Pick Granny Smith Apples?

Generally, Granny Smith apples are harvested mid-season, between September and October. If they are sown later in the season, it may stretch up to November.

A general method to be sure of when to pick the Granny Smith apples is to keep track of the days from bloom to harvest. On average, it takes about 170-180 days for the apples to ripen after full bloom. 

While this method generally works, one cannot vouch for its precision each time. Variations in different factors affecting growth like temperature, sunlight, rainfall happen each season. Thus, they may influence the process, resulting in prolonged growth. 

Let us discuss some other means to determine the ripeness of Granny Smith. 

How Can You Tell When Granny Smith Apples Are Ripe?

Delicious granny smith apples placed on a small black plate

If you’ve been growing your own Granny Smith Apples, you would have realized it is tricky to figure out when they are ripe. Typically, the red skin color of apples is an indication of their ripeness. With Granny Smith, the green color is misleading and provides no satisfactory conclusions. 

  • Usually, ripe Granny Smith apples have a slight blush of yellow or pink. They roughly fit the size of an adult fist.
  • It should be easy to pluck off the tree. Gently twist it in the upward direction. If it comes off, it is ripe. If you have to snatch it off the branch with all your might or cut it down, it is still unripe.
  • Cut one of the apples open and check the seed color. It should be dark brown, if ripe.
  • Take a bite off the apple. A ripe green apple is just as sweet and juicy as a red apple. Should it be sour or tangy, there is still time for it to ripen. 

If you find yourself confused and unsure even after performing all these tests, you may use the following scientific method suggested by some garden experts.

  • Pick any one apple from the stack and cut it in half. 
  • Take two tablespoons of iodine and mix it with 1-2 cups of water to prepare an iodine solution. 
  • Spray the inside of the apple with the solution and observe its effects over the next few minutes. 
  • Should the apple flesh remain white and practice no changes, it is ripe and ready to be used. However, if the flesh turns black, the apples are still unripe and need time to bloom fully. 

What Makes Them Sweet or Tart?

An apple's flavor is dependent upon the concentration of sugars and acids in it. Each apple maintains stability between the sweet and sour ratio, which keeps changing over time. This change happens because apples contain starch which converts to sugar during harvest.

During storage, this sugar is consumed by the apple as energy. Thus, they become more patient and juicier over time.

What Makes Granny Smith Apples Sour?

Granny Smith apples are sour because of the difference in their sweet-sour proportion. These apple varieties are high in acid concentration with limited sugar portions. Thus, they maintain a tart and acidic taste even after being picked. 

What Makes an Apple Crisp and Juicy?

A wide variety of compounds, like water, sugar, acids, and esters combine to form the juices found within apple cells. The cells swell up with these juices, causing the cell wall to expand. These cell walls break apart when you bite off an apple, and the juices leach out. Thus, it feels crisp and juicy in your mouth.

What Apples Are Similar to Granny Smith?

A stand-out color and a tangy taste make Granny Smith apples a classic apple variety. Bakers and chefs deem it the best for festive apple pies, muffins, and more. 

Thus, it is hard for any apple variety to rival such a flavor. But, there are a few varieties that are similar and can be substituted. Braeburn and Cortland are popular choices for using in baked dishes, while Crispin apples are perfect for using in a salad or eating raw to enjoy the same pristine taste. 

How to Grow Granny Smith at Home?

A bunch of healthy green apples on an apple tree

Planting a Granny Smith tree in your orchard will ensure a surplus supply of fresh, healthy apples for your family. It will also work to elevate the landscape and last you decades. Here’s how you can go about it: 

  • The Right Place: Apples require a lot of sunlight for their healthy growth. It should be planted in warm climate zones where it absorbs at least six hours of direct sunlight.
  • The Right Spacing: Keep in mind that a Granny Smith grows up to 12-16 feet in height and extends to 10-14 feet in width. Plant your tree wisely to provide it with sufficient room to grow and absorb the sunlight it needs. 
  • The Right Soil: For efficient growth, add some organic material or compost to the soil you are planting the seed in. Stir it to a depth of 18-20 inches to ensure it reaches the roots of the apple tree. 
  • The Right Sapling: Choose a sapling at least six feet tall but only a year old. This is an optimal choice to ensure it solidifies its roots quickly and grows efficiently.
  • The Right Environment: Cross-pollination is a critical aspect for the growth of Granny Smith trees. Thus, plant another of your favorite apple varieties nearby. Any type will do, but make sure it blooms in the same season as Granny Smith.

Final Takeaway

A basket full of newly harvested green apples

All this information makes one thing increasingly clear. Granny Smith is a unique apple variety and requires exclusive attention and care for good growth. They may not have the ability to turn red, but they still provide a great flavor and many uses in their current form. We hope you've found the information above helpful!

Before you go, are there other apple concerns you have? If you're thinking about buying them in bulk, you'll have to resort to freezing them to preserve them for longer. In this situation, you might want to know if they're still good enough to use in pies! To learn more, check out our post - Can You Use Frozen Apples For Pies?

If you're baking a large number of pies, you might want to know if they freeze well too! You can learn more by checking out our post - Does Apple Pie Freeze Well?

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