The Best Eating Apple Trees to Grow in the UK

Apple trees are the most reliable and productive of fruit trees. They are ideal for the UK climate and are easy to grow. It is no wonder that they are the most popular fruit trees for the garden. One mature tree can produce hundreds of apples, providing plenty for the whole family and even some windfalls for the birds. Apple trees also add a burst of blossom in spring, great for insects and for lifting the spirits.

There are thousands of varieties available, so how to choose the best eating apple tree for your garden?

Thankfully, we have done most of the work for you. The range that we grow are tried and tested, and have proven themselves to be productive, tasty and good for most gardens. Many varieties have been in cultivation for over a century and are still popular. Some varieties are new and have come from careful breeding programmes to ensure they are full of flavour and disease resistant. At Frank P Matthews we have been growing apple trees since 1901 and are proud of our extensive range of good quality British trees. We have supplied garden centres for decades and grown the trees for commercial fruit growers all over the country.

Below are some of our favourite eating apples, divided into early, mid and late season ripening. Plant some of each and have fresh apples for several months! There are many more than those mentioned here so feel free to browse all the lovely varieties on our website. This article focuses on eating apples, for the best cooking apples, click here. You can, of course, eat cooking apples fresh from the tree but they tend to be more acidic so they hold their flavour when cooked. And you can always cook with eating apples but the flavour might not be as rich. The difference between eating and cooking apples isn’t scientific and some varieties are regarded as ‘dual purpose’ and suit both purposes.

Apple Rosette best eating apple

What are the best early eating apples to grow in the UK?

Early ripening apples can be ready to pick fresh from the tree in August. They are a refreshing summer treat to start the apple season. Early varieties usually don’t keep very well so need to be eaten (or juiced) as soon as they are ready. Our top recommendations for early eating apples are:

Apple Discovery – Crisp and juicy with a hint of strawberry and bright red skin.

Apple Rosette – Aromatic flavour with pink rosette pattern through the flesh. Delicious eaten fresh or juiced.

Apple Beauty of Bath – Bright red flush on yellow skin. Sweet and juicy.

Apple Irish Peach – Small yellow fruit with a red flush, like a peach. Perfumed and juicy.

Apple Katy – Bright red, juicy and firm. Heavy crops. Makes excellent juice.

What are the best mid-season eating apples to grow in the UK?

From mid-September apple season gets into full swing and hundreds of excellent varieties begin to ripen. The few we have chosen are proven winners that come top in taste tests every year. There are loads more!

Apple Cox – Old favourite. Deep cream flesh and sweet aromatic flavour.

Apple James Grieve – Reliable cropped and very hardy. Good to eat fresh or cook with.

Apple Queen of the Realm – Crunchy and sweet with pretty scarlet skin.

Apple Red Windsor – Superb flavour, heavy crops, compact growth.

Apple Scrumptious – Bright red when ripe, thin skin and excellent flavour.

Apple Surprize – Glossy orange skin with sweet, pink flesh.

Apple Surprize best eating apple
Christmas Pippin® best eating apple

What are the best late eating apples to grow in the UK?

Late season eating apples are the most crisp and crunchy. They begin to ripen in October and are the best varieties for storing to keep for winter. Some will even stay on the tree into November.

Apple Ashmead’s Kernel – Pale green aromatic fruit, intense flavour, firm white flesh.

Apple Christmas Pippin – Exceptional high quality eating apple with a beautiful honey flavour.

Apple Core Blimey – Crisp and juicy. Red striped skin. Similar to Cox.

Apple Herefordshire Russet – Rich, nutty flavour. Heavy cropping and keeps well.

Apple Paradice Gold – Crisp texture, superb flavour. Disease resistant.

Apple Red Falstaff – Heavy crops of tasty, juicy apples. Skin turns red when ripe.