This is the first entry in a series of blog posts I've decided to do called "Do You Know...?" just for fun because I'm such a random trivia geek.
I've found a new love. Paul happened upon these apples at Kroger the weekend we had Atticus. He cut one up for the kids one day at lunch and popped a piece in his mouth. Obviously, he thought it was something I simply MUST try, because the next thing I knew he was stuffing one into my mouth. Usually I have to avoid the things he wants me to try (he once asked me to sniff some homemade ground pepper and I ended up burning and crying for a good 15 minutes), but this time he caught me off guard. It was a good thing because it turned out to be the best tasting apple I had ever had! And that's saying a lot really because I like apples.
Up to this point Fuji had been my very favorite variety, since it has a thinner peel and a nice sweet flavor. Fujis sort of changed my world after growing up with the sweet (albeit soft-fleshed and thick-peeled) Red Delicious in the school cafeteria and then, as I got older, the very tart Granny Smith. I much preferred the Granny Smith simply because of its crispy texture, but it too had a thick peel, leaving me with mixed feelings and often sore gums. Thus began many years of peeling my apples. This way I could enjoy them. When Fuji came along, however, it was just such a relief to stop peeling and actually bite into an apple the way it was meant to be done. I can't tell you how "depressed" I was a summer ago when, for some reason, there was a severe Fuji shortage. No one could find them anywhere. And then when they finally became available again they were terrible--like they came from a bad crop.
Anyway, back to the Honeycrisp. This apple is nothing short of extraordinary. I'm telling you it is certain to become your favorite. It is thin-skinned, sweet and tart at the same time, juicier than all get-out, and ten times crisper than any "old" Granny Smith. You will NOT be disappointed. I even did a little research and found out way more about the world of apple production than I ever cared to know. I'll try to summarize: The very first seedlings of this variety were a result of "crosses" done in 1960. They were grown as seedling trees until 1974 (good year) when they were mature enough to bear fruit that could be harvested. At this point they selected 10-12 trees from the variety and assigned it a number (they don't give out names until they are ready to release an apple into the marketplace). From these trees, buds were taken and grafted in 1975, making four new trees. They grew in a nursery all the next year and were planted in 1977. Over the next several years various reports were made regarding its hardiness in winter, the fruit's texture, etc. Not until approximately 1987 did the Honeycrisp reach a point in maturity to show promise enough to be given a name. I'm still not clear on why it took twenty-one years from that point to actually reach my mouth. As much as my family buys apples, I feel certain I would have run across them if they had been there in the store.
From what I've read, the Honeycrisp is quickly becoming everybody's favorite. I will say, though, it's not cheap. The most recent price around here was $2.99 per pound, which comes out to be close to a dollar an apple. Yikes! It's been said that it is a difficult apple to grow and doesn't do well in all areas. Primarily grown in and around the state of Minnesota, where it originated by the way, it is understandably harder to come by, hence the pricey price. But do yourself a favor, buy at least one when next you go to the store. You will be SO glad you did.