Arkansas Black Apples

Scotty Bakema, Student Interest and Entertainment

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Arkansas Black is one of those apples that apparently holds no middle ground among apple fanciers; they either love it or hate it… Period. For those who despise the apple, I prefer to think it’s just a case of misunderstanding. 

Arkansas Black is a fine apple with many exceptional merits that deserves more respect but, in order to properly enjoy the fruit one must exercise a bit of patience and give the apple a little extra time to become “all it can be.”

What are Black Apples?

Arkansas Black apples are vivid red to dark purple with a somewhat waxy skin. Its flesh is golden-hued and juicy with a fine-grained and crisp texture. Its highly aromatic and sweet-tart flavor mellows and becomes more palatable with storage.

Where are they grown?

Possibly raised by a settler named John Crawford in Arkansas, USA in the 1840s, and certainly widely grown in Arkansas and Missouri later that century.  It is thought to be a seedling of Winesap. This apple is notable for the extremely dark coloration, which becomes almost black after storage.


The apple is thought to have originated in the mid to late 1800s in Bentonville, Arkansas, possibly discovered and raised by a settler named John Crawford. It certainly gained greater popularity later that century and could be found growing throughout Arkansas and Missouri and surrounding states. 

Believed to be a seedling of Winesap, the apple has many qualities similar to its better-known parent, namely a tart, tangy flavor and the ability to stay firm, crisp and flavorful after many months in storage. In fact, the apple reaches its peak in flavor and texture after a long period in cold storage. 

When first picked in October the apple can be as hard as a rock and almost as flavorful! Trying to enjoy the apple at this stage will usually lead to disappointment. However, after an extended period of storage, the apple undergoes a dramatic change and becomes a rather fine dessert apple. 

The texture and taste:

The sharp tartness mellows significantly into a rich sweetness that will surprise the skeptic who might have expressed some disdain with a freshly-picked apple. The hard, dense texture improves greatly as well, becoming softer and more tender apple while still retaining a pleasing crispness.