Originally sold through the Marks and Spencer stores in the 90’s the brand Pink Lady has established itself as the third best selling variety of apple in the UK market, however Pink Lady isn’t a variety of apple, it’s actually a brand which the variety Cripps Pink is sold under. The marketing of the Pink Lady brand has been tremendous, with the distinctive pink sticker on apples (and the pink boxes) a common sight in homes and shops. What Pink Lady do is they set standards for the quality of Cripps Pinks- and when these meet these standards for sweetness, thickness of skin, sugar content they are then sold under the Pink Lady brand. If you’re a fan of Pink Lady you’ll notice that it’s not uncommon to get sprouted seeds inside the fruits, you can take these and plant them, but it’ll be a long time before you have a fruiting tree- and the fruits will be different than the fruit from which the seeds are harvested from!
PInk Lady source Cripps Pink from orchards through the world, in Europe they’re grown in Italy, Spain, France, Serbia and Israel….but not here in Ireland. We simply don’t have the required amount of sun days to get these through to harvest - you need 200 days of good sunshine for a Cripps Pink, something that we are way short of here! Cripps Pink also flower very early and are one of the last apples to be harvested - so our frosts would damage these flowers. Here in Ireland around 51% of our commercial orchard space is just for growing Bramleys, the rest if split with around 29% in Cider apples and 20% in Dessert apples. In our home gardens we tend to have around 10 eaters for 2 cookers. To put into context how many Pink Ladys are grown in Europe, in Ireland we have around 615 hectares of orchards, in France alone there is 2000 hectares of Pink Ladys grown, that’s around twice as much as there is land planted in Potatoes here in Donegal!
My own two girls know the brand name, and will happily ask for a Pink Lady rather than just an apple - and with over 53 million kilos being sold in the UK market….that’s a whole pile of apples!!
These Cripps Pink are not a result of some mad GM experiment but were bred by Englishman John Cripps in Australia in the mid 70’s, and has been developed and improved since, although hard to find you can get organic Pink Ladys (GM technology is prohibited in organic production).
As mentioned above you’ll not normally be able to grow a Cripps Pink in your garden here, its as difficult to grow as a Granny Smith - but you may have some luck growing them espallier against a south facing wall in a walled garden - but don’t try to sell them under the Pink Lady brand...you’ll be breaking the law! A similar in taste variety which grows happily here in my own back garden is the Katy apple - a nice small sweet apple.
Indeed in our own gardens we should all try to grow more fruit, whether it’s raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or the afore mentioned apples. We import far too much soft fruit - and in turn throw too much of it away. We should all try to plant more fruit in our gardens, remember Its Your Duty to be Fruity!!