I still remember the Red Delicious apples my mother used to put in my kindergarten lunch box (with standard issue mini Thermos, the kind whose insides would shatter to bits--ruining your snack time juice--if you looked at it wrong).
I recall their pretty red color, small size and mealy texture. I also remember how, on most days, they'll remain uneaten or would be traded or given away to others in my class. I never liked them and they would eventually ruin my fresh apple enjoyment for years to come.
I would refuse to eat my apple a day on the basis of texture (and flavor) but I still enjoyed any apple dish or beverage where cooked, baked, juiced, preserved, stewed or processed apples were a main ingredient as long as it was any other type of apple used. Any but Red Delicious.
Apple juice, sauce, tarte tatin, apple tarts, apple turnovers, apple pie, apple cider, Calvados. All favorites, all the time. But I hardly ever snacked on a fresh apple again until, years later, many years later, I gave varieties such as Jonagold, Fuji and Pink Lady a chance. Still, I'd rather cook or bake with apples than eat them out of hand.
Until Honey Crisp Apples, that is. These amazing apples have spoiled me for life and now have become the standard by which I measure and compare all other eating apples. They are the closest one can get to eating Apple Cider. Refreshing and a bit tart, yet sweet and with a lovely finish.
A Macoun and Honey Gold hybrid, it was developed by breeders at the University of Minnesota back in 1974 and later released in 1991. They are thin skinned, sweet, with a lovely outer pinkish green hue and cream colored flesh, and come in two grades: one smallish and one large sized apple that on average weighs in at about a pound each.
Honey Crisp apples have a signature high water content that makes for an ultra-crisp bite. At times, when I'm chewing on these apples, they make a sound similar to that of eating chips or crunch things. I've yet to experience this crunch in any other apple. Which reminds me: because of its high water content this is not the best apple for baking. They also have a short season and seem to be a hard to find apple that only now it is making a regular appearance at Seattle markets.
The growers and produce managers I've spoken to warn about these apples bruising easily and some prefer the small size to the largish one but I've noticed that once cut up, even when left on a kitchen counter, open and exposed to room temperature/air, they retain their color and do not get brown like most other apples would. I also happen to favor the large grade apple.
It is imperative, however (in my experience, at least) for these apples to remain refrigerated and to be eaten promptly. Oterwise they tend to get a bit funky, the texture starts deteriorating and will lose all their crunch turning instead as mealy as those horrid Red Delicious apples of yesteryear (who eats these anyway?) One apple is usually enough for two (or more) people to enjoy. I core them and wedge them and eat them skin-on by themselves or with a little Argentinian Dulce De Leche.
The Honey Crisp season it is almost over. In fact, some of the Larry's Market stores I used to shop at for them no longer have the apples in stock. But they are worth the effort to seek out and to make a mental note for next years harvest. This is the best thing that has happen to eating apples in many years and one variety I will continue to purchase and eat for years to come.
Apple Fact: More than half of all apples grown in the United States for fresh eating come from orchards in Washington state and Washington apples are sold in all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the world.