John Downie (crab)

Why you should be excited

John Downie is an English crab-apple best known for making excellent crab-apple jelly.

The story of John Downie

Perhaps the best-known of crab-apples in the United Kingdom, John Downie brings several positives that set it apart from the non-crabs that dominate the U.K. apple scene.

First, it’s self-fertile, so doesn’t need a nearby tree of a different variety.

Second, it contributes excellent pollen to help other varieties get the pollen they need.

Third, it’s highly productive, with loads of smallish crab-apples of bright orange or red colouring.

And, finally, that fruit makes for excellent jelly.

John Downie can also contribute positively to cider, providing an orange-tinged juice packed with good levels of sugar and acid.

John Downie Facts

Its origins

Discovered in England.

Flavour, aroma, texture

The small fruit deliver a sweet-tart flavour jolt to jelly.


Small-plum-like crab-apples are orange mostly covered by red.

When they’re available

Mid-season (usually in September).

Quality for fresh eating

Good, although mostly used for jelly.

Quality for cooking

Excellent in jelly.

Quality for cider

Good. Makes an orange-tinged juice.

Keeping ability

Good (about 2 months when kept refrigerated).