Q: Why do some of my apples have brown patches on the top? Are they still good to eat? What about the spots on pears?
A: It is known as russeting. Russeting is a brownish, corky or netlike texture that appears on many apple and pear varieties. It ranges in coverage from a small patch, typically near the top of the fruit, to most of the fruit’s surface, the latter being less common. Russeting is natural and does not harm the quality or taste of the fruit.
In apples, russeting typically occurs in heirloom varieties, such as Gravensteins, Pippins, and Jonathans. There are also apples that are named for this characteristic texture, including Roxbury Russets, Egremont Russets, Merton Russets, and many more.
With pears, many types of Asian pears include this aesthetic feature, and certain European varieties, particularly Bosc pears (and sometimes D’Anjou and Bartlett pears) have natural russeting.
Aside from naturally russeted varieties, russeting is commonly due to weather conditions like moisture that develops on the fruit as it grows, with additional factors such as a late frost and/or humidity also playing a role.
The russeted patches are not only edible, but they tend to have a delicious nutty flavor.