I’m not a big apple eater. One of the reasons is that I rarely encounter an eating apple that has just the right flavor and texture.
First, apples should actually taste like something besides vaguely flavored cardboard. I like my apples on the tart side, but not too tart (Jonathan apples, for example, are great for pies, but sometimes a bit too tart to eat plain). They have to be really crisp. The slightest touch of softness or mealiness turns me off. (McIntosh apples taste great, but lack the crispness I crave.)
Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji apples come very close—when you get a good one. Increasingly, too many of them are not that good.
That is why I’m always on the lookout for “new” apples. I was in Michigan a couple of weekends ago and saw a sign for Honeycrisp apples, a variety that was new to me. I bit into one, and suddenly I love apples again.
The Honeycrisp, a pretty red and green freckled apple, is fairly tart, but still with a good amount of sweetness. And it is one of the crispest apples I’ve tried.
A cross between the Macoun and the Honeygold, the Honeycrisp was developed in 1960, but has been commercially grown in the Midwest only in the past decade. It’s still hard to find outside of orchards and farm markets in season (September-October), though you can order it online at Honeycrisp.com.
If you’re anywhere where this tasty apple is being sold, grab it while you can. It’s a keeper.
Update, fall 2013: The Honeycrisp has since struck it big. The good news is that it’s readily available; even Costco carries it. The bad news is that mass production means there are way too many good-but-not-great Honeycrisp apples out there. I recommend buying Honeycrisps−or any apple, for that matter−at farmers markets and orchards.