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Wickson crabapples are a larger crabapple variety, though they only grow up to one and a half to 2 inches in diameter. The apple’s skin ranges in color from a dusty golden yellow to a striped, bright cherry red. Wickson apples are uncharacteristically sweet for a crabapple, with a sugar content near 25%, yet they retain the renowned tartness of the variety. The pips, or seeds, are smaller in the California crabapple, but number the same as a full-sized variety.
Wickson crabapples are available in the fall.
The Wickson crabapple is a member of the Malus species and is a cross between Spitzenberg crab and Newton crabapple varieties. The Wickson variety was developed by Albert Etter in the mid-1940s. The crabapple’s strong flavor, sweetness and acid balance make it a fantastic candidate for both hard and fresh cider.
Wickson crabapples are perfect for eating fresh, out-of-hand with a convenient size and good flavor. The sweetness of the Wickson crabapple with its high sugar content, lends well to pies and tarts. Wickson crabapples are said to make wonderful champagne cider. The small apples are easily crushed and produce a large amount of juice for their diminutive size. Wickson crabapples will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Wickson crabapples were introduced in Humboldt County, California in 1944. Breeder Albert Etter named his new variety after Edward J. Wickson, a friend and distinguished California pomologist considered to be “The Father of California Agriculture”. They are one of the few apple varieties native to the state of California.