Here in New York, apple season is in full swing. It seems as though everywhere you look there are piles and baskets of crisp juicy fruit, just waiting to be taken home or eaten out of hand. The nice thing about living in an apple producing state is that we can actually get our hands on fresh, un-waxed specimens and enjoy them straight from the tree, if we so desire. Although we haven't been apple-picking this fall, we still hope to get out to Warwick Valley Winery, one of our favorite places to pick fruit and pick up a bit hard cider. If all goes well, we'll make it out there before the season ends.
One of our favorite apples for eating out of hand is the Honey Crisp. It's commonly believed to be a cross bred variety, developed in Minnesota and derived from the Macoun and the Honey Gold. In 1964, DNA fingerprinting proved that neither of these varieties were the actual parents of the Honeycrisp. Instead the Keepsake variety was noted as one of the the original breeds, while the other still remains a mystery. The weather damaged tree or trees, depending upon the source, from which the Honeycrisp originated were protected and maintained by David Bedford of the University of Minesota. The cultivar wasn't released until 1991, thirty-one years after the variety was officially recorded.
In spite of its dubious parentage, the Honeycrisp has grown to be one of the most popular apples in the marketplace. They are rounded in shape with flattened tops and bottoms. mottle red and yellow skins with a cream colored flesh. The flesh has larger cells than the average apple allowing the fruit to retain larger amounts of juice. The Honeycrisp is characterized by its crisp texture and balanced, slightly floral, sweet-tart flavor. It's the type of apple that requires a napkin in hand to wipe a sticky chin from the excessive juices released when biting into the fruit. Honeycrisps are available from mid-Septemeber through mid-November and keep for up to six months when stored in refrigeration. We like to keep a big bowl of them on the dining room table for snacking, knowing full well that it's only a matter time before that apple pie makes its appearance after dinner.