SweeTango – Honeycrisp’s nightmare

Ah, Fall… apple season.  Once again our favorite apple, the Honeycrisp is in season for a limited time and we must rush to eat as many as we can.  The Honeycrisp is as good as an apple can get, isn’t it?  It’s sweet, crunchy, juicy, crisp… everything you want in an apple.

Until now.

A couple of weeks ago Jess sent me this article with a ton of excitement:

Tim Byrne picked an apple from the spindly tree, sliced it and popped a chunk into his mouth. He couldn’t have been more pleased as he chomped and got a juicy blast of sweet-tart flavor.”This is what’s got us excited,” Byrne said as he shared samples from a perfectly ripe SweeTango apple, which he and other growers are about to introduce as the successor to the incredibly successful Honeycrisp.

The SweeTango?  Successor to the Honeycrisp??  This I had to see!  Unfortunately it will still be a couple of years before it reaches most supermarkets in the US, so I had to find a different way.  The article said it was being sold in select Farmer’s Markets in Minnesota, so I did some digging and e-mailing, trying to find a place to get one of these apples.

As fate would have it, I ended up getting in touch with Tim Byrne of Pepin Heights Orchard, himself.  Seems Tim is very proud of his apples and was more than happy to send me a few of these brand new apples to try.  Excellent!  Now, it wasn’t just me who was happy, but Jess was, too.  You see, Jessica hates apples.  Really, she hates them with a passion.  The only apples and apple products she likes are listed below:

  • Caramel Apples
  • Honeycrisp Apples
  • Apple Pie/Crisp

Yeah, that’s it.  She doesn’t like candy apples, apple pastries, apple cider, apple sauce, or any other apple breed.  I’ve tried bring home everything from Gala to Pink Ladies and she hates ’em all.  So the possibility of an apple that could add to her repertoire would be glorious.  Fast forward a week and our questions were soon to be answered.


These look like normal apples, but contained within is the secret to fruit happiness.

Look at those apples… you wouldn’t guess that they were mindblowingly good just from looking at them. They don’t look like anything special, but let me tell you, they are now my favorite apple, hands down.  Jess and I had to try one the second we got the box open and it was just perfectly crisp and juicy.  Very sweet with just a bit of a tang at the end.  It was the perfect apple.  I told Jess that is seemed very similar to the Honeycrisp and that I should do an “apple-off” to see which I like better.  I have never been so wrong.

It looks like its mom!

Awww... it looks like its mom!

It looks like its mom!

Sliced, but not diced.

On the left we have the SweeTango, and on the right we have a Honeycrisp from Small’s Fruit Farm (who actually were interested in the SweeTango when I told them about it). As you see, the apples look the same.  You can’t tell, but they also smell, feel and sound the same.  Yes, sound the same… if you tap it you get a nice “hollow thock” sound that you don’t get with all apples.  When it comes to taste, well…

I started with the Honeycrisp, and as expected it was sweet and crispy and just everything a perfect Honeycrisp should be.  Excellent.  I moved over and took a bite of the SweeTango… really nice.  It was very sweet and had a great tang to it.  Now I made my mistake: I put another slice of the Honeycrisp in my mouth.  Blech!  It was horrible… not that sweet, kind of sour.  Not good at all.  What in the world happened?  Well, have you ever tried two foods and the first is “okay” and the second is really good?  If you go back to the first it now tastes worse because you now have something to compare it to.  I think this is what happened here.  The SweeTango was so much better than the Honeycrisp that in a direct comparison the Honeycrisp lost all the awesome.

It was sad and I had to test my theory out on someone else.  I had Jess repeat the experiment and her beloved Honeycrisp suddenly tasted sour.  Luckily they taste fine when not being compared to the SweeTango.  I also tested the theory by grabbing a Gala apple and tasting it.  Tasted great… nice and sweet!  I then tried a bite of a Honeycrisp and as expected it tasted good.  I then went back to the Gala and…. bland.  Just didn’t taste as good in direct comparison. I assume that if you were to bake all these together in a crisp or a pie it would mesh well and you wouldn’t notice, but when tasted side-by-side, the sweeter and tangier apple destroys the competition.

So if you happen to live in the northern Mid-Western states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc) check out your Farmer’s Markets and you may find this little guy hanging out.  If you’re not in the area, you’ll have to wait until at *least* next year or longer to try what I think is the Honeycrisp killer.  I know it is now my favorite breed of apple for eating raw and I think when others try it they’ll be believers as well.  Soon Minnesota will have to change the State fruit from the Honeycrisp to the SweeTango.

So, what is your favorite apple cultivar?  Have you tried the SweeTango?  If so, did you like it as much as we did?

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6 Responses to SweeTango – Honeycrisp’s nightmare

  1. Rich Rich says:

    As it happens, I bought a small sack of SweeTangos at Pepin Heights’ roadside store yesterday. They are indeed a delicious apple. I ate two in the car during my next hour of driving and had to restrain myself from continuing to devour them. But the pricing is ridiculous, working out to $1.25 per apple. And that’s bulk at the farm (albeit retail). Grocery store pricing is closer to $2.00 per apple.

  2. Jess Jess says:

    Rich, yeah but I kind of think they are worth it and the pricing is higher right now since not many people have them available.

    Here in Omaha someone had Honeycrisps for around 11 dollars…I SWEAR there were only 4 apples in that bag. Love these apples!

    I sent an email to my local newspaper as well as my local Wholefoods and begged both to help get these here. lol

  3. Rich Rich says:

    Chances are you won’t see them for a year or two. They can’t keep the local stores stocked here in the Twin Cities with this first year’s crop.

    Hmm…I’m driving to Denver next week. Maybe I could cover some travel expenses by importing a box or two into Omaha…

  4. Betsy Betsy says:

    I’m in New York and we have them. Is that odd? They’re absolutely brilliant apples.

  5. Cindy Cindy says:

    I grew up in an apple-growing state but now live along the Gulf Coast. Here, all we get are Granny Smiths or apples-from-elsewhere. I tried some Honeycrisps at Pepin Heights when passing through MN two years ago and thought they were pretty good. (Actually, we liked their Chestnut Crabapples better!) This year we wanted to get some SweeTangos but Pepin Heights said they were all sold out … except for a handful, which they were rationing by the slice. Wow! Way better than Honeycrisp–probably the best eating-type apple we’ve ever tasted. Consistency will be the key, though. We bought some so-called “Honeycrisps” last year at a local (southeastern US) grocery store. They’d been shipped in from another state. They were scabby-looking and mealy–not good at all.

  6. Woody Woody says:

    I have not tried sweetango, but for my taste, you just can’t beat Empire. Everyone that has tasted it says “Now THATS’ an apple.”

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