Cox Orange Pippin Apple

By Adam Calder
Wheatsfield Produce Manager

The produce department is excited to offer a new apple variety to our customers: the Cox Orange Pippin.

The Cox apple was discovered as a chance seedling by horticulturalist and brewer Richard Cox in 1830 at Buckinghamsihire, England. It has since grown in popularity and now represents more than half of the acreage in the United Kingdom for dessert apples.

Apple connoisseurs claim the Cox is unsurpassed in its’s complex, multi-layered flavors and aromas. The flavor of the Cox is described as subtle and shifting, with notes of anise, cherry, honey, mango, melon and pear that is moderately sharp and subacid.

The “orange” in the name comes from the color of the skin, and not so much the taste of the apple. The color of the skin is red with an orange flush. The Cox’s flesh is juicy, fine-grained, yellow-white and crisp. The seeds are loosely attached to the flesh so the apple rattles when shaken. The apple can range in shape from round to oblate (flattened at the poles).

Unfortunately, the Cox tends to fall victim to apple scab, canker and mildew. These qualities make it difficult to grow outside of an oceanic (mild summers and cool but not cold winters) climate so it is mostly grown in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, small pockets of the Pacific Northwest in the United States, and parts of Nova Scotia in Canada.

Netted veins on the skin of the Cox also can cause the apple to split and crack open, most often during especially wet springs. The stem basket (the small indentation on the top of the apple where the stem sticks out) is deep so water pools there, making a spot where pathogens can grow. The scion (young shoot of an apple tree) is very weak and yet the weight load of the fruit is high. The usual remedy for this problem in apple trees is an application of nitrogen. In the Cox apple, however, the application of nitrogen causes unpleasant changes to the texture of the flesh of the apple.

The highly prized flavors and aromas of Cox apples has led to the development of many new breeds of apples when farmers have tried to meld these characteristics with other apples that are easier to grow. The results of those efforts are over 77 different apple varieties.

Cox apples are excellent for fresh eating, make delicious baked goods and the juice is often blended in with other apples to improve the flavor of cider. They store for about three months in a cool, dark place but are best eaten before the end of the December.