Hansen's Red Flesh (crab)

Why you should be excited

Hansen's Red Flesh is a quality crab-apple -- and one with appealingly red flesh -- bred by the legendary Niels Hansen.

The story of Hansen's Red Flesh

Niels Hansen is a significant name in North American apple breeding history, verging on belonging in the 'slightly oddball' category also occupied by the Californian Albert Ettter, who was active around the same time in the early 20th century.

Both did their own thing, although Hansen was more mainstream than Etter. He worked to breed apple varieties with the red-fleshed Russian variety Niedzwetzkyana as one parent and various high-quality dessert and crab-apples as the other.

Hansen's work may be considered a failure in the sense that there are still no red-fleshed apples of commercial significance being grown (although Airlie Red Flesh may deserve that status). However, he did raise some interesting varieties, including this pretty crab-apple, which comes with deep colouring straight through and provides good quality in jellies and cider.

Hansen's Red Flesh Facts

Its origins

Bred at Brookings, South Dakota, USA; 1928 introduction.

Flavour, aroma, texture

Fairly dry with firm, coarse flesh. Astringent and acidic.


Tall little apples are deep, dark red-skinned. The flesh is also red.

When they’re available

Mid-late season (usually in early October).

Quality for fresh eating

Too sour and astringent for most people.

Quality for cooking

Excellent in jelly.

Quality for cider

Very good, especially when you value that pink tinge of colour.

Keeping ability

Minimal (best used right after harvest).