Why Are Honeycrisp Apples So Good?
Honeycrisp Apples Are My Favorites
As the name implies, the honeycrisp apple is crisp and sweet. It's become my favorite apple, but I've only been able to buy it in mid-late fall.
The honeycrisp apple was developed at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Minnesota.
The first time I tried a honeycrisp apple was in the mid-1990s when our family was visiting my mother in Minneapolis. She took us to The Apple House where we had the opportunity to taste a few different varieties of apples from the orchard and buy apples. Our favorites that day were the honey gold and the honeycrisp. We left with a bag of the sweet, crisp and juicy honeycrisp apples.
The honeycrisp apple was introduced to the public in 1991, but I don't remember it being sold where I live in Michigan until maybe five years ago (2005, give or take a couple years...). When it's available, it's the only apple I'll buy now!
All photos in this page from University of Minnesota Apples:Free Photos
Explosively crisp and juicy!
[Experience] their exceptionally crisp and juicy texture. Bite into the cream-colored flesh and the large cells explode with juice in your mouth, carrying a delightful, well-balanced, sub-acid and mildly aromatic flavor."— University of Minnesota Apples
Have you tried honeycrisp apples?
What Makes Honeycrisp Apples So Special?
Doesn't this sound like an apple you'd love to eat?
The two main benefits that set this apple apart from other varieties are:
- Its taste and texture (as quoted above)
- Its long storage life
Its flavor and texture can be maintained for months if it's kept under refrigerated conditions. Originally I was under the impression that honeycrisps didn't store well because I didn't see them for long in the markets and grocery stores. But that's because they sold out quickly after harvesting! More apple orchards are growing honeycrisps now, so I predict we'll soon be able to buy them well past their harvest.
Because these apples are so popular, they're more expensive than the usual supermarket apples you'd find. I used to buy them just as a treat, on an occasional basis, but now when they're available I won't buy any other variety. (Update: I have noticed that the cost per pound is less than it was last year, as they become more common in the stores.)
Culinary Uses of Honeycrisp Apples
I prefer honeycrisps sliced and eaten fresh, just by themselves. The honeycrisp apple has been called a "dessert" apple because of its exceptional flavor when eaten fresh. Honeycrisp apples are also good in salads and cooked in any apple recipe.
AllRecipes.com has some good recipes for honeycrisp apples:
Here's a great recipe for Chicken salad with honey crisp apples, toasted almonds and cheddar with an apple cider vinaigrette as the dressing. You could also make your regular chicken salad and add cut up honeycrisps.
The balance between sweet and tart utterly seduces your taste buds.— from a reporter when describing Honey Crisp apples
Did you know...?
The Honeycrisp Apple is Minnesota's state fruit. It's given a great boost to apple growers in the state.
The Honeycrisp was also selected as one of the top 25 innovations in over a decade in the 2006 Better World Report.
Development of the Honeycrisp Apple
The honeycrisp apple was developed by the University of Minnesota's apple breeding program, and is now one of the program's best apples. The goal of this breeding program is to produce high quality apple cultivars that can withstand cold winters.
The honeycrisp apple was produced from a cross of two other apples in 1960 as part of the University of Minnesota's apple breeding program. The first seedlings were planted the following year, and the first apples harvested probably in the late '60s, and released to the public in 1991.
Why did it take so long to introduce this apple to the public? The new apple cultivars need to be studied for a number of years to determine their usual characteristics. Some varieties may produce well one year and not the next. Some may be damaged by excessively cold winters, and therefore not particularly useful to Minnesota apple growers! Sometimes the apples are smaller as the trees grow larger, or maybe they produce fruit only every other year or so. Some are more prone to pests and diseases. There are many conditions that the developers want to study before they determine that the apple is right for the market.
University of Minnesota Apple Breeding Program
The University of Minnesota apple breeding program is home of the favorite honeycrisp apple.
University of Minnesota apple breeder and researcher, David Bedford, tastes around 500 apples a day at the University of Minnesota apple orchards. The University of Minnesota Apple Breeding program has been going on for almost a century. During that time researchers have developed about 25 varieties that can stand up to Minnesota's climate (and similar climates in North America and Europe).
Apples developed at the U of M are good for Minnesota commercial apple growers. About three quarters of the apples grown in Minnesota were developed by the Apple Breeding program.
The University of Minnesota has one of the three largest apple breeding programs in the United States, and its orchards are the birthplace of some of the most unique and best tasting apples on the market, including the Honeycrisp and Haralson apples, and the up-and-coming SweeTango apple.
The University of Minnesota's breeding orchards grow about 18,000 apple trees with many different varieties that are being tested and tasted to see what can be successfully developed for commercial production in Minnesota.
David Bedford (mentioned above, and in the video) says that for about every 10,000 trees, they'll get maybe one that will produce apples good enough to release.
The different apple varieties have different flavors. Bedford says, ""We have flavors like Sweet 16 that taste like a cherry life-saver or we have Keepsake that tastes like a tropical sugar cane." There are apples that have a buttery taste, or a chocolate or anise flavoring, or citrusy-tasting. Most of these won't make it to mass production because their other characteristics wouldn't make them suitable for growing in large orchards.
Buying Honey Crisps Online
If you can't find honey crisp apples in your local grocery store, you can order them online when they're in season.
Don't these look good?
Honey Crisp Apples on Amazon
Read More About Honeycrisp Apples
- Honeycrisp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Honeycrisp is an apple cultivar developed at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The Honeycrisp has rapidly become a prized commercial commodity, as its sweetness,
Honeycrisp is an exciting apple variety that has apple lovers around the world talking. Many are saying that it is the best fresh-eating apple variety ever.
- Baking With Apples
Short description of many apple varieties, and how they're best used in eating and cooking.
- Honeycrisp : Apples : U of M.
The Honeycrisp Apple, also known in Europe as the Honeycrunch Apple, is one of the University of Minnesota's best apples. They are widely grown around the world. Millions have been sold to people who love the well-balanced sweet-tart taste, and explo