Red Moon apple: flavour & characteristics of the red apple variety


I am a student of agricultural sciences and a real country kid. At home, I love tending my small vegetable garden and spending time out in nature. When not outdoors, I love to write. Beyond gardening and writing, however, I am particularly passionate about wildlife.

Favourite fruit: currants and raspberries
Favourite vegetables: salsify, savoy cabbage and potatoes

What does the ‘Red Moon’ apple taste like and where does it come from? Here is everything you need to know about this red-fleshed apple variety.

cluster of red moon apples
The ‘Red Moon’ variety is instantly identifiable by its dark red fruits [Photo: ninette_luz/]

With pink blossoms and dark red fruits with equally red flesh, the ‘Red Moon’ apple variety more than lives up to its name. The apple tree’s intensely red fruits make it a real eye-catcher in the garden. But it is not only because of its colourful apples that the ‘Red Moon’ is a real sensation; its robust nature also makes this Russian variety a true collector’s item. Here is all you need to know about the ‘Red Moon’ apple, including how to use this old apple variety in the kitchen.

‘Red Moon’ apple: profile

Synonyms'Standard Red', 'Weirouge'
FruitMedium sized; deep red
FlavourJuicy, aromatic, tart
Harvest timeFrom end of September
Ripe to eatFrom end of September
Shelf lifeVery good; can be stored until March
ClimateUndemanding; very frost and weather resistant
Pests and diseasesApple scab resistant, susceptible to powdery mildew

Origin and history of the ‘Red Moon’ apple

Russian botanist and pomologist Ivan Michurin bred the ‘Red Moon’ variety in the early 20th century. His goal was to develop extremely robust and frost-resistant apple varieties that would also thrive in Russia’s cold, continental climate. He crossed the red-fleshed Niedzwetzki apple (Malus niedzwetzkyana), a wild apple variety, with the cultivated apple. This resulted in the creation of the apple variety ‘Standard Red’in around 1915, which was later renamed ‘Red Moon’. Due to its robust nature and intensely coloured fruits, the apple tree quickly spread from Russia to Germany, but the Third Reich stopped the propagation of this unique apple variety. As a result, there were so few ‘Red Moon’ specimens left in Germany that it could almost not be found at all. In 1999, Peter Stoppel, a German fruit cultivator, filed an application for the protection of the ‘Weirouge’ red apple. After a few years, however, it was determined that the ‘Weirouge’ is actually identical to the already protected ‘Red Moon’, which is why the variety ‘Weirouge’ is still often used as a synonym. The ‘Red Moon’ is still widely cultivated by apple enthusiasts, but also plays a major role in the breeding of other red-fleshed dessert apples such as the ‘Baya Marisa’.

Taste and other characteristics

‘Red Moon’ apples are truly beautiful to look at: as they ripen, their yellow base colour eventually deepens to a dark red that envelops the entire fruit. Only occasionally do green spots remain on the otherwise red-washed apple flesh. This medium-sized, round fruit, which hangs on a thin, medium-long stem, reveals its allure when cut open – almost the entire flesh of the inner fruit is red. Even the seeds and core have a distinct red tinge. Anthocyanins are responsible for the intense colour of the ‘Red Moon’ apple as well as its high antioxidant content. This high concentration of antioxidants not only means that the apple’s flesh is less prone to browning but also that the ‘Red Moon’ is particularly healthy. However, the firm and juicy flesh of this apple is not to everyone’s liking: due to the low sugar content combined with a high level of acidity, the ‘Red Moon’ is an aromatic but truly sour apple. Because of its tangy flesh and its tartness, it is only suitable for fresh consumption to a limited extent.

Red moon's red flesh
The apple’s flesh is just as red [Photo: VIKTORIUS-73/]

Growing ‘Red Moon’ apple trees

The ‘Red Moon’ was cultivated to be an apple tree that could thrive and yield well even in the harsh Russian winter and so this old apple variety is extremely hardy. Depending on the rootstock, the vigorous tree tends to have a medium-strong growth habit with a medium density of branching and can grow to between 3 and 5 metres tall. They are available in both standard and semi-dwarf fruit tree sizes.

They are very undemanding in nature. The ‘Red Moon’ tree thrives in sunny locations with nutrient-rich soil, producing higher yields but also more brilliantly coloured fruit. As with most apple varieties, regular pruning can improve branching and yield.

One characteristic of the ‘Red Moon’ is that not only its flesh, but also its young leaves, its flowers, and even its bark have a reddish colour. From April to May, pink to red flowers adorn the ‘Red Moon’ apple tree. Despite its relatively early flowering, the ‘Red Moon’ apple tree grows well even in areas prone to late frost. Even the tree’s flowers are both extremely frost and weather resistant. ‘Red Moon’ yields are especially high when there are compatible pollinators nearby. ‘Elstar‘ and ‘James Grieve’ apple varieties are compatible partners for pollinating ‘Red Moon’ apple trees. ‘Red Moon’ apple trees themselves are good pollinators in return! This variety is very hardy and resistant to apple scab, though they do get mildew in unfavourable conditions.

Red Moon blossoms
The ‘Red Moon’ blooms in a delicate pink [Photo: Juncat/]

‘Red Moon’ apple: harvest and uses

The time for harvesting has arrived when the intensely coloured ‘Red Moon’ apples shine on the tree at the end of September and into October. ‘Red Moon’ apples are also ready to eat as soon as they are picked.It is critical to leave the apples on the tree for as long as possible to achieve an intense red coloration of the flesh. When the flesh is harvested too early, it is usually not fully ripened.

‘Red Moon’ apples are only suitable for fresh consumption to a limited extent due to their sour taste. They are, however, excellent apples for baking, as well as for making apple sauce and jam. Plus, their red colour remains even after cooking. Because of their juicy flesh, they can also be used as cider apples and produce excellent red apple juice.

However, those who cannot process their apples immediately need not worry about their ‘Red Moon’ apples as this variety is known for its long shelf life. When stored in a cool, dark place, the apple can often be stored until March without issue. But beware: Like many red-fleshed apple varieties, the ‘Red Moon’ apple does not tolerate temperatures below 4°C.

Are you looking for more red apple varieties? The Redlove apple is another interesting and aromatic variety.

Subscribe to the Plantura newsletter