This section is from the book "The Fruit Manual: Containing The Descriptions And Synonyms Of The Fruits And Fruit Trees Of Great Britain", by Robert Hogg. Also available from Amazon: The Fruit Manual.
Fruit, small, an inch and three-quarters wide, and about an inch and a half high; round, and a little flattened. Skin, smooth and shining, pale yellowish green in the shade, but clear yellow, with sometimes a faint tinge of red or orange, next the sun. Eye, small and closed, surrounded with a few small plaits, and set in a very shallow basin. Stamens, marginal or median; tube, funnel-shaped. Stalk, an inch long, slender, and inserted in a shallow cavity, which is lined with delicate russet. Flesh, white, crisp, brisk, and juicy, with a vinous and slightly perfumed flavour, but becoming mealy and tasteless if kept only a few days after being gathered. Cells, obovate or roundish obovate; axile, closed.
The tree does not attain a large size, but is hardy and healthy. It is not a great bearer, which may, in a great measure, account for its not being so generally cultivated as its earliness would recommend it to be. If worked on the paradise stock it may be grown in pots, when the fruit will not only be produced earlier, but in greater abundance than on the crab, or free stock.
One of our oldest apples, and although generally known and popular, seems to have escaped the notice of Miller, who does not even mention it in any of the editions of his Dictionary. As I have doubers of this being the Geneting of Parkinson - his figure being evidently intended for the Margaret, which in some districts is called Joaneting - the first mention we have of this variety is by Rea, in 1665, who describes it as " a small, yellow, red-sided apple, upon a wall, ripe in the end of June."
"Juneating," as applied to this apple, is quite a misnomer. Abercrombie was the first who wrote it June-eating, as if in allusion to the period of its maturity, which is, however, not till the end of July. Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, writes it Gineting, and says it is a corruption of Janeton (Fr.), signifying Jane or Janet, having been so called from a person of that name. Ray* says, "Pomum Ginettinum, quod unde dictum sit me latet." Indeed, there does not seem ever to have been a correct definition given of it.
My definition of the name is this. In the Middle Ages, it was customary to make the festivals of the Church periods on which occurrences were to take place or from which events were to be named. Even in the present day we hear the country people talking of some crop to be sown, or some other to be planted, at Michaelmas, St. Martin's, or St. Andrew's tide. It was also the practice for parents to dedicate their children to some particular saint, as Jean Baptiste, on the recurrence of whose festival all who are so named keep it as a holiday. So it was also in regard to fruits, which were named after the day about which they came to maturity. Thus, we have the Margaret Apple, so called from being ripe about St. Margaret's Day, the 20th of July; the Magdalene, or Maudlin, from St, Magdalene's Day, the 22nd of July. And in Curtius † we find the Joannina, so called, "Quod circa divi Joannis BaptistŠ nativitatem esui sint." These are also noticed by J. Baptista Porta; he says, "Est genus alterum quod quia circa festum Divi Joannis maturiscit, vulgus Melo de San Giovanni dicitur." And according to Tragus,‡ "QuŠ apud nos prima maturantur, Sanct Johans Opffell, Latine, Praecocia mala dicuntur."
We see, therefore, that apples were called Joannina because they ripened about St. John's Day, and we have among the old French pears Amire Joannet - the "Wonderful Little John," which Merlet informs us was so called because it ripened about St. John's Day. If, then, we add to Joannet the termination ing, so general among our names of apples, we have Joannettng. There can be no doubt that this is the correct derivation of the name of this apple.