Pippin apple: Crop and agronomic characteristics

The Reineta apple is a variety of apple widely consumed in Spain that, although it is not the most famous, we can say that there are at least two guarantee brands that protect it. Discover the origin, uses, varieties and cultivation characteristics of this well-known variety.

Although according to the bible it is the forbidden fruit, currently, there are thousands of varieties of apple. In Gardenprue we have already told you about some of them, such as the Fuji apple, but in this case it is our turn (although it is originally from France) that is grown in many places in northern Spain.


Although the first thought is the kingdom, queen or things like that alluding to delicacy or the fruit of royalty, we are missing the mark a lot. It comes from the French ” rainette ” or “raine”. Rainette in French is a small green tree frog ( Hyla meridionalis ) and perhaps that was the initial association. Apple with the color of that frog … Although it may be caught with tweezers, it is.


By autonomous communities, Aragon leads and in second place Castilla y León with its two guarantee brands Manzana Reineta del Bierzo in León and Manzana Reineta del Valle de las Caderechas in Burgos.

What if I told you that pippin apples are grown in Tenerife? Yes, in the northern area and at about 800 meters above sea level where the cold-hours reach 800. Not everything in the Canaries is sun and beach. There are climates and climates in that archipelago. In the climate section we explain this about the cold-hours.


It has no more or less nutrients than other apples. It can only have less sugars in favor of slightly more acids , mainly malic , although it also has a certain amount of citric and oxalic to a much lesser extent than malic.

Did you know that malic acid is so called because it is typical of the apple? Malic comes from the taxonomic name Malus domestica

Nobody doubts that the apple is healthy. It is the star fruit to eat at mid-morning. It is satiating, nutritious and recognized by any nutritionist. It has a high potassium content and is very low in sodium so it is good for hypertensive patients . It has a very low calorie content .



The pippin apple has flavor, that is clear to us and its more general organoleptic qualities can be listed in:

  • Juicy and not very mealy or earthy pulp (varies with the different pippin sub-varieties).
  • Good crunchy bite.
  • High acidity . It is less sweet than other varieties such as Golden or Fuji. But it all depends on how long it is allowed to mature outside the tree. Let us remember that it is a climacteric fruit .
  • White or cream colored pulp.
  • Green, brown color in most varieties although there are some red
  • Visually depending on the variety, abundant or total presence of « Russeting » or wrinkled in the skin of the fruit. It is flattened and normally asymmetrical .

All these general characteristics vary slightly depending on the subvarietals.

Subvarietal Pippin from Canada. Photo from: Wikimedia commons


The pippin apple is “per se” a variety of the Malus domestica L. species . but within the pippin ‘there are dozens if not hundreds of cultivars or sub-varieties that are grown according to the area. Let’s see a few:

  • Pippin of pipkins.
  • Pippin Zabergau of German origin
  • Pippin Russet
  • Reineta Alfaro
  • Red Pippin of Canada. Characteristic red color being a pippin.
  • Caux Pippin
  • Pippin Caravia. This variety has a pleasant flavor, it is very aromatic but the texture is somewhat mealy. Used in the production of Asturian cider.
  • White pippin from Canada (most common French varieties due to their aforementioned organoleptic characteristics).
  • Gray pippin
  • Pippin Panera. It is less known for being sensitive to spotting (disease caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis ) and canker (caused by the fungus Nectria galligena ).
  • Incarnate Pippin. Typical of Asturias and used in the production of cider. Also somewhat sensitive to mottling and canker, especially in humid areas.

There are earlier varieties and others later.


The apple will be one of those fruits in which society, year after year, has demanded a practically unreal visual appearance . Skins waxed , bright, uniform, vivid colors and perfect form. And this is when the word ” Russeting” or skin wrinkling comes in.

Russeting is a process of alteration of the outer layer of the apple skin that is more common in some varieties than in others.

What happens at the biochemical level is what is known as suberification . This process consists of the cellulose membrane of the plant cells of the apple skin replacing the cellulose with suberin . This compound is more impermeable and let’s say it ends up sealing the inside of the apple against gas exchange with the pulp.

Note: Remember that apples are climacteric, that is, they continue to ripen outside the tree. The fruit continues to “breathe” and generate a gas exchange.


The Russeting process is conditioned by the variety and also by several external conditions such as:

  • Climatic : Temperature, humidity, morning dew.
  • Phytosanitary products and fertilizers: Some fertilization or pest protection treatments can generate russeting.
  • Mechanical alterations such as friction or blows with other fruits or branches (gusts of wind, insufficient thinning, etc.) can produce this phenomenon.

Normally it is considered a defect due, precisely to the first paragraph of this section: because we want shiny, pristine, waxy apples. Russeting can generate rejection by turning the apple skin into a kind of rusty , matte stain that dulls and makes the product ugly. This fortunately changes over time and the consumer begins to understand that the most beautiful product does not have to be the tastiest.

Yes it is true that russeting taken to the extreme can end up cracking the fruit , there we do lose its commercial value in an instant because the pulp oxidizes in seconds and rotting occurs in hours. Russeting makes the skin less elastic, it contracts slightly and this can lead to splitting.


Just as in the varieties Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden (except Golden Russet), Pink lady and many others, russeting is considered a serious commercial defect , in the pippin apple it is a varietal characteristic and is not considered a defect. We all know that a pippin apple can have this roughness and that color even in the entire apple but we know that this variety is like that. And if you like it, it is because of the flavor and texture of the pulp and not because of the color of the skin. In the following image we can see green areas and brownish areas with russeting. The cover photo is an example of full russeting.

Something similar happens with some pears like the Conference . Outwardly they are not very attractive, but the sweetness of a pear at its optimum ripeness is quite difficult to match.

In varieties in which it is considered a commercial defect, the fight is quite arduous because there are many factors to control, but in varieties such as pippin, by not posing a problem, we get rid of quite a few headaches.

Pippin apple basket. Photo icgonmi



The apple tree, in general, is a fairly rustic crop. It can be grown in areas with harsh winters , with prolonged sub-zero temperatures for several days. But it can also grow in frost-free areas.

Apple trees are grown throughout the Cantabrian mountain range , Catalonia , the two castles and Aragon without any problem. However, it is not a crop that occurs with great profusion in the south of the country.

The apple tree (in general) needs a series of cold-hours during the winter, a process known as vernalization . This process is necessary because it induces flowering . Cold-hours are considered approximately between 3 and 7ºC.

The apple tree along with the pear tree are long, the species that need the most cold-hours of the deciduous fruit trees, being able to reach 1500 cold-hours . In the case of the vast majority of apple trees there are around 1000.


As in many deciduous fruit trees, we cannot forget the turn or alternation of fruiting. There are species that some years bear a lot of fruit and others not so much. There are many factors that influence but one of the most pressing is the cold-hours. If they do not arrive, the flowering is diminished and therefore, the fruit does not arrive. If you want to know what factors affect the vecerity of a tree, we recommend a complete article on vecerity.

Read more >> The turn in fruit trees


There are no excessive limitations on the type of soil for the apple tree of the pippin varieties, but we can highlight optimal conditions for its development.

It supports a wide pH range and we can deduce this from Reineta apple plantations throughout the peninsula. The most famous Reineta apple growing area is Bierzo and according to the geological maps of Castilla y León we can see a pH around 7 , but it could withstand more acidic pHs reaching 5.5 .

Another area of ​​Reineta apple cultivation is a small part of the Bureba area in Burgos whose pH is eminently basic, reaching 8 in some areas. This area is characterized by having very limestone soils, a characteristic that is not bad for cultivation.

The soil texture must be open and airy, with medium-sized stone material and even a gravel area that provides aeration and prevents the soil from compacting. In this way we will achieve good drainage , essential to avoid root rot and associated diseases, in addition to facilitating deep root development.

It is not a crop that needs overly nourished soils, but it can appreciate a content of available organic matter . Between 1% and 2% would be the same.

The usual planting framework should be North-South with an approximate density of between 1000 and 1200 trees / ha .

Apple tree flowering in groups (not pippin). Photo for Tambako the Jaguar


If the soil is relatively fertile and the apple tree is designed for the garden at a private level, it is not necessary to be very aware of the subscriber. It is deep rooted and tends to get nutrients.

In intensive high-production crops, fertilizer is normally incorporated with irrigation in fertigation with controlled doses of the necessary nutrients. As an approximate data, doses of:

  • Nitrogen (N): 150 kg / ha
  • Phosphorus (P 2 O 5 ): 70 kg / ha
  • Potassium (K 2 O): 180-200 kg / hab
  • Magensio (MgO): 50 kg / ha

Normally the application of these elements is distributed throughout the year, spring being the time of greatest demand . During the months of April, May, June and July, more than 2/3 of the total of each element applies. But you have to make a good fertilizer plan starting from an initial soil analysis . We must also be attentive to the deficiencies of other microelements such as boron, zinc, copper or iron to avoid problems of chlorosis , bud abortions, premature fruit drop, etc.


The objective of pruning is to form the tree, balance the crown, aerate the center of the crown and give it light and achieve maximum production and accessibility to the fruit at harvest. For this reason, different types of pruning are determined. Formation pruning, maintenance pruning and restoration pruning.

Two types of formation pruning are common in the apple tree . The pruning in axis (more typical) or the formation in trellis (also abundant). The two-story axis formation is common in apple trees. It consists of:

  • A first floor at a height of about 5-70 cm from the ground with about 4 branches with different orientation.
  • At 1 or 1.5m, another 2 or 3 smaller main branches are left.

We will also have to eliminate crossed branches , those that go towards the center of the tree and the suckers that do nothing but consume resources unnecessarily.

The thinning of fruits or better of the flowers is necessary for a fruit of optimum quality. The flowers usually come out in groups, in clusters and if the fruit is to reach a certain size and shape, this process is necessary. It is better to do it in flower so as not to waste energy and nutrients during fruit set.


The pippin apple does not have specific diseases of the variety. They are the usual ones of any apple tree.

Read more >> Apple tree pests and diseases

Roasted apples. Photo by: anjuli_ayer


This variety is especially suitable for roasting and it is also truly simple. These are the basic indications for roasting a pippin apple :

  • Heat oven to 180-200ºC
  • Wash the apples and empty the core of the apple without making a hole in the bottom. You can use an apple dipper or a knife to remove the part of the stalk.
  • Sprinkle a little sugar in the hollow of the heart. There are those who also put some cinnamon .
  • A little water is added in the source or tray and we bake them for about 30 minutes.
  • When the skin wrinkles and opens they are ready. Prick the texture of the pulp with a fork to make sure.

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