The Rosetta ™ Apples
Etter was fascinated with novelty and sought out exotic varieties to serve as parents in his breeding experiments. Early on, he came to focus much attention on an obscure apple with unusual pink flesh aptly titled "Surprise". This apple was brought into the Ohio River Valley by immigrants from Germany around 1840. It probably originated in Turkey and pomologists speculate that its ancestry traces back to Malus pumila "Niedzwetzkyana", the Redvein Crab of the Transcaucasus region.
Despite its colorful flesh, Surprise was not especially esteemed in this country; its skin tended toward an unattractive dullish green and the flesh was acidic and lacking in sweetness. It did, however, perform better in Ettersburg than in most other places, and Etter was inspired to use Surprise as the genetic foundation for a new breed of high quality pink-fleshed dessert apples. By 1944, he claimed to have selected 30 promising new varieties of this class. Pink Pearl, one of the last of Etter's Surprise hybrids, was the one singled out by George Roeding, Jr. for patenting and official introduction. The others were largely ignored - except for a few trees grown by Etter's friends and neighbors - and left to languish in the breeder's decaying experiment orchard.
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When we arrived on the scene in the 1970's, searching for these pink-fleshed (and pink-blossomed) varieties became a family pastime, both in Spring and in Fall. Eventually, we recovered a dozen different examples of these Surprise hybrids - which we propagated and tested in our own orchard. The seven that we deemed outstanding were given names with trademarks registered to Greenmantle Nursery. These were then introduced to our customers on a trial basis; non-propagation agreements are a requirement with purchase. We call this group of our seven pink-fleshed selections the Rosetta™ Apples.
Are these new varieties truly better than
Pink Pearl? Only time and tastes can give us the answer. The pink-fleshed
apples as a class are tempermental about climate and site, with appearance
and quality varying from season to season. Some varieties will prove
more widely adapted than others. We can state this from our experience
and that of our customers: each of the seven Rosetta™ Apples has
its own distinctive
For a more detailed and comprehensive discussion of pink and red-fleshed
apple varieites, see the article Albert Etter and the Pink-Fleshed
Daughters of "Surprise" by Ram Fishman, published in Fruit
Gardener (The Journal of the California Rare Fruit Growers) Vol. 27,
No. 3, May/June 1995 . This article discusses Etter's work and compares
it with that of Niels Hansen (1866-1950) who bred cold-hardy red-fleshed
culinary apples and ornamental crabs using Malus pumila "Niedzwetzkyana".
Descriptions of the Rosetta™ Apples (in ripening order)
PINK PEARMAIN® ( CV. Etter 14-9) Ripening a week or two after Pink Pearl (early September), this can be an exceptionally colorful and attractive fruit: deeply red/red-striped skin covering vivid mottled pink flesh. Like Pink Pearl, it must be fully ripe for maximum sweetness and color. The aromatics are complex and suggestive of berries. Its main drawback comes from its ripening season; the intense heat common here in August and September can adversely affect texture and flesh color. (Pink Pearl also suffers to some extent.) Nevertheless, in a good year - or in a cooler climate - Pink Pearmain® is a unique and worthy variety. It is also the latest blooming of the group, an advantage for frosty locations.
The apple we named Christmas Pink® does indeed make a charming ornament; the deep pink flesh color suffuses the creamy translucent skin. It is a briskly tart apple when we pick it at the start of the rainy season. After a few weeks in storage in the barn or refrigerator, it mellows into a richly flavored apple that can be enjoyed in salads, desserts, pies, or cider. The melting flesh is exceedingly juicy, so combined with its color it calls to mind a very sprightly watermelon.
A large handsome fruit with bright red stripes and splashes over a cream background: the flesh is mottled pink and cream, almost as if an ordinary apple were stained with cherry juice. And the flavor and texture are amazing, making Pink Parfait® an unforgetable eating experience. It requires a long warm growing season and can be tricky to finish properly. Those who can grow this apple well are truly fortunate.
RESTRICTIONS TO PROPAGATION & COMMERCIAL USE
Rosetta ™, Pink Pearmain®, Blush Rosette™, Thornberry®, Rubaiyat®, Christmas Pink®, Grenadine®, and Pink Parfait® are trademarks of Greenmantle Nursery. These varieties are propagated and sold exclusively by Greenmantle Nursery.
NO UNAUTHORIZED PROPAGATION OR SALE OF TREES.
NO SALE OF FRUIT WITHOUT LICENSE.......
The Ettersburg Apple
The Greenmantle/ Etter
All original text and images © Greenmantle Nursery 2005, 2009