Golden Delicious apple: taste, blossom & harvest


Having studied organic farming, I enjoy trying out new cultivation methods and other gardening experiments with friends in our community garden. I care deeply about exploring sustainable and mindful approaches to working with nature. This is my biggest passion, but I am also a real ornamental plant enthusiast!

Favourite fruit: strawberry, mango, guava
Favourite vegetables: artichoke, tomato, rocket

Where does the ‘Golden Delicious’ apple variety come from? How do you grow and harvest them? And what’s the best way to store them? Read on to find out!

Basket of harvested ripe golden delicious apples
The ‘Golden Delicious’ variety is a classic dessert apple around the world [Photo: Africa Studio/]

‘Golden Delicious’ (Malus domestica) is a classic dessert apple, and, because of its high yield and sweetness, one of the world’s most popular. In recent years, other more disease-resistant, aromatic and flavourful apple varieties have found favour. For hobby gardeners, however, growing ‘Golden Delicious’ is great fun – especially for those with a sweet tooth! Read on for essential tips on growing ‘Golden Delicious’ at home!

‘Golden Delicious’ apple: profile

Synonym‘Yellow Delicious’
FruitMedium to large; yellow-green colour
FlavourJuicy, sweet with pleasant acidity, light aniseed flavour
YieldRegular; high
Harvest timeEnd September to October
Ripe to eatOctober to March
Shelf lifeGood; can be stored until March
GrowthSemi-dwarf; wide pyramidal shape
Pests and diseasesHighly susceptible to scab, various viruses, fire blight; less susceptible to mildew, fruit rot

Origin and history of ‘Golden Delicious’

Originally from West Virginia, USA, ‘Golden Delicious’ has been cultivated around the world since the 20th century. Its high yield and sweet flavour make it a favourite amongst apple growers and customers alike. Though less common today, many popular apple varieties are descended from ‘Golden Delicious’. These include ‘Elstar’, ‘Gala’ and ‘Jonagold’. In fact, most modern apple varieties since 1930 are descended from just three ancestors, or progenitors: ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Cox Orange’ and ‘Jonathan’.

Golden delicious apple variety on tree
‘Golden Delicious’ apple trees originated from the USA [Photo: Shulevskyy Volodymyr/]

Taste and characteristics of the ‘Golden Delicious’ apple

The highly productive ‘Golden Delicious’ apple trees are neither large nor small. Their hanging branches spread wide, supporting medium to large, green-yellow apples. On rare occasions, the fruits redden slightly under the sun.

‘Golden Delicious’ apples are juicy when harvested early, and dry if harvested late. When fully ripe, the fruits are not particularly acidic; they are sweet and offer a slight aniseed note. What is more, ‘Golden Delicious’ oxidises slowly when cut open, so it will not turn brown very quickly.

What are the characteristics of ‘Golden Delicious’ apples?

  • Medium to large size
  • Green-yellow
  • Juicy
  • Sweet-aromatic with very little acidity
  • Cut surfaces turn brown slowly

Growing tips

‘Golden Delicious’ apple trees grow best in full-sun. With moist, chalky and humus-rich soil, you are almost guaranteed a high yield. However, ‘Golden Delicious’ is not tolerant to frost. If frost is a threat, provide your tree a shelter.

Without suitable conditions, ‘Golden Delicious’ apples will not fully ripen and will lose much of their flavour.

‘Golden Delicious’ apple trees are only partial self-pollinators. As such, they will need partner trees. ‘Gala’, ‘Elstar’ and ‘Rubinette’ are all great choices.

What should you look for when growing ‘Golden Delicious’?

  • The sunnier the better
  • Moderately moist, humus-rich soil
  • Chalky, nutrient-rich soil
  • No frost or a shelter
  • Partner trees for pollination
Orchard of golden delicious apple trees in full sun
‘Golden Delicious’ apple trees need a location that is as sunny as possible [Photo: Kristen Prahl/]

Tip: For small spaces, ‘Golden Delicious’ is ideal. Foster a narrow tree, or opt for a dwarf tree, which will only grow to around 120 centimetres. You can even grow these in a pot.

Harvesting and using ‘Golden Delicious’ apples

‘Golden Delicious’ apples are winter apples. Harvest them from the end of September to October, before they are fully ripe. The apples ripen further in storage, and, if left in a cool, dry and dark place – for example in boxes in a pantry or cellar – they will keep until March.

Read our article on harvesting and storing apples for more.

‘Golden Delicious’ apples are best enjoyed uncooked. Prepare them in a colourful fruit salad, eat them as a snack, dip them in chocolate, or add them to yoghurt. In sum: avoid cooking or baking ‘Golden Delicious’ apples, as they tend to lose their structure.

That is, unless you are looking to make apple sauce, apple puree or baby food. ‘Golden Delicious’ apples are also ideal for apple juice, especially when mixed with other, less sweet apple varieties. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even make your own ‘Golden Delicious’ brandy!

Harvesting golden delicious apples
‘Golden Delicious’ apples are harvested from the end of September [Photo: Olya_Beli_Art/]

Recap: Harvest and use ‘Golden Delicious’

  • Harvest time: End of September to October
  • Harvest time: When the skin turns from green to yellow
  • Ripe for eating: October to March
  • Store in a cool, dry, and dark place
  • Use: Dessert apple, apple puree, juice, fruit brandy

The German apple variety ‘Geheimrat Dr. Oldenburg’ rivals the sweet taste of ‘Golden Delicious’, and is less susceptible to disease. Check it out!