By Matthew Thompson, "An Apple Renaissance,"September/October 2012
In autumn, orchards swell with perfectly ripe, color-splashed apples. And though they come in a host of tasty varieties, for many the belle of the ball is a relatively new arrival, the Honeycrisp. Perfectly snappy and just a little tart, the Honeycrisp has taken America by storm, with roughly 693 million apples sold in the last year alone—up 25 percent from the year before. There’s a reason for all the love. As the apple’s cultivator David Bedford explains, Honeycrisps have cells twice the size of a normal fruit—so, twice as packed with juice—and strong cell walls that shatter rather than fall apart when bitten into. The result? As Bedford puts it: “They defined a new category of crisp…we had to coin the term ‘explosively crisp’ to describe them.”
In the wake of Honeycrisp’s success, a bushel basket of new apple varieties have made their way to market over the last few years. These include juicy, floral Jazz, firm Ambrosia, delicate, almost tropical Piñata and the Honeycrisp descendent SweeTango. You might not be able to find every new variety where you live, but you’ll certainly be able to find some. When you do, we’ve got the perfect recipes for them (check the recipe notes for suggestions on specific varieties to use). Add a few to our zippy Apple & Fennel Salad with Blue Cheese or savor them in our stick-to-your-ribs Apple Oatmeal. Whatever you choose, be sure to get them soon. There’s only so long that these apples are at their peak flavor and it would be a shame to miss out.