Can Designer Apples Bump the Honeycrisp Apple From its ‘Crisp’ Title?

The Honeycrisp apple has a new rival.

Apples are among the most popular fruits, and for good reason. They taste delicious, and provide an abundance of nutrients and vitamins. Another reason apples are so beloved is that they come in so many varieties. Sweet, tart, crisp — there’s a type for anyone. And according to The New York Times, some of the newer apple varieties are the most popular.

One of the more recent varieties of apple that has taken the apple world by storm is Honeycrisp. The Honeycrisp apple is known for its namesake–a crisp texture and juicy flesh. But according to Grist, Honeycrisp isn’t easy to produce and it’s expensive. Also: it doesn’t store well.

So, imagine growers joy when they discovered that there was a new apple variety that delivers in the crisp and flavor departments: Cosmic Crisp. According to The New York Times, Cosmic Crisp tastes “dramatically dark.” It features rich flavors while maintaining a lot of crunch. Also: it’s juicy.

The Cosmic Crisp, a cross of an Enterprise and a Honeycrisp, is “under development in central Washington.” While its taste profile is delectable, it’s also a desirable variety for farmers and packers because it’s easy to manage. While the Cosmic Crisp was hybridized in 1997 it won’t be available until 2019.

Although Cosmic Crisp looks like it will fly off the shelves once it arrives in stores, it may not hold a candle to heirloom apple varieties. The Times reports that it’s “only mildly aromatic compared with the best-flavored heirloom apples, which offer an added dimension of intensity and complexity akin to that of fine wines.”

Katie Evans, an apple breeder at Washington State University, is in charge of analyzing new apple varieties like the Cosmic Crisp. According to The Times, when Evans examines new apples, she looks for “crispness, detected as teeth shear an apple’s flesh and it cracks; and juiciness, revealed when the flesh is chewed and its cells rupture.” Evans is one of the people who gets to peak behind the curtain of production and knows how painstaking it is to create a new apple variety. Her work, according to The Times, is detailed and incredibly time consuming. “Dr. Evans uses the traditional method of applying pollen of one parent tree to the flowers of another, then planting the seeds of the resulting fruit, waiting five years for seedlings to bear, and evaluating tens of thousands of candidates for each eventual variety,” The Times reports.

While Cosmic Crisp won’t be available for a long while, other new varieties, such as SweeTango, Juici, Opal, and SnapDragon, are gaining in popularity.

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Image of the Honeycrisp apple from Shutterstock