Colin Lyons, our produce buyer, explains what makes Opal apples so different from any other apple available today.
Over the past 15years, 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?
Five 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 grocery stores.