Minnesota’s own Honeycrisp apple kicks off the apple season in a big way. The Honeycrisp is now celebrating its 20th year after being created and developed at the University of Minnesota. Originally named MN 1711, the Honeycrisp took over 30 years to be perfected from a crossbreed between the Macoun and Honeygold apples. The Honeycrisp hit the shelves in 1997 and hasn’t looked back since. It’s popularity exploded nationally and across the globe. In Europe, it’s known as the ‘Honeycrunch’. Exceptionally juicy and crisp with its well-balanced sweet and tart flavor, it’s no wonder why it was named Minnesota’s state fruit.
The University of Minnesota has developed 27 types of apples since 1908. Some of the newest varieties the U of M rolled out are the aptly named ‘SnowSweet’ and ‘Frostbite’. Not to be outdone, the Honeycrisp continues to contribute to the happiness of apple lovers everywhere. From the Honeycrisp came the SweeTango, a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar apple. And now, from a cross between the Honeycrisp and MonArk apple comes the newest variety called the ‘Rave’.
Described by its producers at Stemilt Growers as “outrageously juicy with a refreshing and snappy zing” the Rave makes its debut this season. Created to have the juiciness of the Honeycrisp and the tartness of the Granny Smith, the Rave is sure to be a new favorite.
One of the Rave’s most unique qualities is its early growing season. The Rave ripens and is harvested in late July, early August. This is great news of course. We get to eat delicious fresh apples even sooner. At the moment, Rave apples are mostly grown in Washington but you will find a few growers here in Minnesota that label the Rave as ‘First Kiss’. For their first year, Rave apples will be harder to find but will be more readily available for the next apple season in 2018.
But for this apple season, celebrate the Honeycrisp! They are ripe for picking right now and are good to harvest through mid-October. I cannot wait to try Honeycrisp’s successor, the Rave, and I am quite eager to see what new delicious varieties the Honeycrisp will bring us in its next 20 years.