I remember the first time I ate a Honeycrisp apple. And no, I'm not one of those people who remembers a lot of first-time food items, but the Honeycrisp was different. I bit into it and nearly broke my jaw taking a bite. I thought to myself--"Now THAT'S an apple!" and I loved it. (As an FYI, the trademark crunch comes from larger cells and cool growing climates.)
|Kaboom! Explosive crunch of the Honeycrisp apple (photo from the University of Minnesota).|
I'll admit I was shocked to read that the Honeycrisp turns 20 years old this year. I can't believe it's been around that long--but then on the other hand, it feels like it's always been a part of our lives. But really, Honeycrisp has been around a lot longer than 20 years. The first breeding crosses for the apple started back in the 1960s, with the first trees released to apple growers in 1991. It's now the Minnesota State Fruit and even has a following in Europe, where they call it the "Honeycrunch" apple.
Honeycrisp finally debuted to the mass public in 1997 when Minnesota grower Pepin Heights Orchards delivered apples to a local grocery store. In just twenty years, it has become one of the top five apples produced in the United States and its name is as common as Granny Smith and Red Delicious. It's considered a mid-season variety, with a harvest starting in September, but because of its long storage life (up to 10 months!), you'll see them in grocery stores for months.
|Fall is apple season! (photo from Penn State University)|
And now, as Honeycrisp turns 20, it is also the proud parent of other University of Minnesota apple introductions, like SweeTango (a cross of Honeycrisp and Zestar!). But because of patents, SweeTango trees will not be available commercially until 2026. You can find the apples in the grocery store, but expect to pay a lot (Honeycrisp also sell for a premium).
What's funny to me, as fall makes everyone go crazy over everything pumpkin, I've seen Honeycrisp products...namely the Method cleaning products who released Honeycrisp dish soap and spray cleaner (it was a limited release and is no longer available). I've also seen applesauce and cider. Fortunately, it's not to the frenzy of pumpkin, but it is a fun tribute to a truly great apple.
|Celebrating 20 years of the Honeycrisp apple. Yum.|