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.
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.
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.
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?