Opal apples – rethink your apple flavor
Posted by by Colin Lyons, produce buyer
Monday, February 13, 2012
Over the past 15 years, we have all watched the University of Minnesota-developed Honeycrisp apple go from a great apple with very limited supply to an unbelievable phenomenon that has changed the apple industry forever.
When you bite into a Honeycrisp, it slaps you across the face. It is an instant rush of flavor that is almost unnatural. Stingingly sweet like a piece of hard candy, this has been my favorite apple for years and it is probably the same for many of you. I was almost to the point where I didn’t think it was possible to create a better apple. Or is it?
Two years ago Lunds and Byerly’s introduced a new apple to the Twin Cities that has made me rethink apple flavor entirely. The Opal apple is a newer variety discovered in Europe in 1999 as a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Topaz. With firm flesh and a bright yellow color with a hint of orange, the Opal is resistant to oxidation and has limited bruising. That means they are less likely to turn brown when sliced and when you buy a big bag full, they can withstand a few bumps in the fruit drawer.
Is it sweet? Yes. Is it tart? Slightly. But these attributes are different from the sweet and tart we are used to. Instead of trying to out- sweet or out-tart the Honeycrisp, the Opal gives your taste buds a little more respect.
At first bite, the crunchy flesh yields a sweetness that is warm and almost buttery. Instead of the Honeycrisp “slap in the face,” the Opal has open arms, inviting you back for bite after bite. It finishes with a slightly tart tang that leaves your palate clean and refreshed.
I am not highlighting these differences to suggest that the Honeycrisp flavor profile is undesirable; there are certain times when we crave that big bold flavor. My point is the Opal offers something that we don’t necessarily get from the Honeycrisp. It offers subtlety and flavor nuance that have put this new apple near the top of my list.
If you are looking for a change of pace in your apple, check out the Opal apple at your local Lunds or Byerly’s. I would love to know what you think!