The Braeburn apple (Malus domestica) is one of the most important commercial apples on the market. Originally found in New Zealand, the Braeburn is now planted in all of the major warm apple-growing areas of the world. The Braeburn is one of the top five apple-producing trees in the state of Washington. Braeburn apple trees are easy to grow; its apples are tasty, they store well and have a multitude of uses.
The Braeburn apple tree was discovered growing in New Zealand in the early 1950s. The Braeburn was cultivated by the nursery Williams Brothers Braeburn Orchards. Although no scientific evidence exists to confirm its parentage, the Braeburn is thought to be a hybrid of the Lady Hamilton and the Granny Smith. Named for the Braeburn Orchards, the apple was introduced to the public in 1952. The Braeburn was brought to the U.S. during the 1980s.
The Braeburn apple was one of the first bi-colored apples produced. The apple is often red in color and marked with stripes of lighter reds, oranges, greens and golds. The apple is medium to large in size, round and firm to the touch. The flesh of the Braeburn apple is crisp, pale, cream-colored and juicy. The apple is fragrant.
Considered a dessert apple, the Braeburn has a rich, complex flavor. There is a good balance of sweetness and tartness in the Braeburn apple. The fruit is never overly sweet and has a sharp, refreshing, high-impact apple flavor that is satisfying to most apple lovers.
Braeburn apples are at their best right after picking but will store well. Braeburns that are picked when they are slightly immature and placed in cold storage will later mature and improve while stored. These apples can last up to 8 months in commercial storage conditions. The apple may suffer from Braeburn browning disorder when stored for long periods of time. You cannot tell if the apple is afflicted with the disorder until you bite into it and see the tell-tale brown spots.
Keep the Braeburn apple at room temperature. Braeburn apples don't brown as quickly as other apples when cut, which makes them ideal for serving sliced or diced into fruit salads. The Braeburn loses its shape quickly when cooked and is best used to make applesauce, pies, tarts and cobblers.
Washington State Braeburns are available from September through November. Consumers can usually find varieties that are grown in Washington state in their grocery stores or produce markets from October until July of the next year.