Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sweet Sixteen **

This medium-sized apple is mostly round with just a hint of ribbing. Its pretty red blush, streaky for the most part, is faintly marked with light lenticels that vary in size; the unblushed peel is a pale yellow tinted with green. Its calyx is clenched shut.

Sweet Sixteen's flesh, coarse-grained and dripping with juice, is a light apricot yellow. Its flavors are mild, generally sweet with a little tempering tartness. Lush fruity cider flavors and cane sugar predominate, with the merest hint of spice and wine around the edges.

Although Sixteen is sweet, there is enough going on that it does not cloy as so many modern varieties do.

The extreme juiciness of the coarse-grained flesh and the striking orange-yellow color, which suggest a stone fruit, are unusual and attractive. One corespondent finds a hint of anise in the flavor mix, but for whatever reason I could not.

Sweet Sixteen was developed by the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center, the same folks who subsequently brought us Zestar and Honeycrisp. It is said to be quite winter-hardy.

16 comments:

  1. Sweet Sixteen may be a parent of Minneiska, aka SweeTango. JC

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  2. JC: Thanks! "May be" a parent? You would think UMinn would make it their business to know!

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  3. I read on SweeTango literature that a Zestar/Honeycrisp cross brought about the SweeTango.

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  4. Had one from Mercer, ME couple days ago- good apple! Bourbon/anise.

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  5. Again with the anise! WIll have to try this one again, probably next year as it is hard to find out here.

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  6. One of my favorites. I can attest to the anise flavor with cherry overtones. I have yet to get the vanilla/bourbon taste. The flesh is crisp and juicy and has the color of a plum flesh. It is a great cold hardy tree also for us here in Wisconsin.

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  7. I've been intrigued by this apple. When we initially planned our orchard a decade ago, we almost bought a Sweet Sixteen whip, but decided against it in the end, since it sounded too sweet. Then, a couple of years ago, I gave in, only to have the tree die in its first year. When we read a comparison to cherry twizzlers, my wife convinced me not to replace the tree. I have yet to see one locally to actually taste one.

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    1. For my part I would love to try some of these again.

      They were sweet but not too, and also see Kathy Wiederholt's comments down thread.

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  8. We grow Sweet Sixteen and Honeycrisp here in North Dakota. We definitely have a different climate because, though our apples are sweet, they also have (sometimes) bracing acidity. Both of these varieties leave my husband wincing thought I think they are great. There is no cherry flavor at all, just an idea of 'spiciness'.

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    1. Well, you definitely have a different climate North Dakota versus New England! Still it's a little surprising that it should lead to so much more acidity.

      I find that both tartness and sweet together are essential to bring out the full flavors of most varieties.

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    2. I have two in Central Illinois and would say this is a sweet but complex tasting apple. Have definitely tasted the anise flavor and some years an extreme cherry flavor. Almost to the point of being odd. I will say the intensity of both varies with year and when over ripe, looses all these unique flavors.

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    3. These are not common around here, sad to say. Not like the Midwest.

      It's odd in this age of globalization that the choices that farmers make about what to grow should be so parochial.

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  9. Hi Adam: I was just gearing up to do a video review of Sweet 16 and ran across this review while doing research. I would definitely never call any sweet 16 I've had grown here mild in flavor. It is the most in your face flavored apple I've probably ever tasted. Cherry is almost alway present with some kind of "candy" flavor along the lines of bubblegum. Anise and almond can be in there too, but often there is so much going on that it's hard to nail down what all is in there. At it's best those flavors harmonize, but sometimes they are just sensational to the point of being gimmicky for lack of a better word.

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  10. Hi Adam & Steven,

    I've been growing Sweet 16 in central Ontario, Canada for about 10 years & "in your face" is also my impression. Most years the flavour reminds me of Cherry Twizzlers (red licorice). Oddly enough, I don't even like Cherry Twizzlers, yet Sweet 16 is one of my favourite apples. The overwhelming impression, however, is always extreme sweetness.

    Adam, if your 1st impression wasn't "extreme sweetness" I'm inclined to think your samples were past their prime. If a Sweet 16 hangs on the tree too long (sometimes also if it's stored too long) the flesh darkens to a shade of apricot, somewhat like what you described. When they're at their best, Sweet 16's are yellow with just hint of orange.

    I haven't seen any updates on this apple. Have you had a chance to try it again?

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    1. Nancy, thank you for weighing in.

      Sadly I have not had a second bite at this apple. My source is a small organic farm that sometimes has years of no apples at all. They do grow some marvelous varieties however.

      I have heard of the cherry twizzler thing and accept your suggestion that my samples should have been picked sooner. They were still awfully good: note I give them two stars.

      Thanks again! It's great to hear from someone with a lot of experience with this variety.

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    2. Hi Adam,

      Sweet 16 seems to be a something of a cult apple ...... there's thousands of Sweet 16 fans (including me) who look forward to the 2-3 weeks every year when it's available. But there's also plenty of people who don't like it, including my husband, who considers it "too" sweet. That's why I guessed that you might've tried an over-ripe one.


      Whenever I give a Sweet 16 to someone who's never tried one, the 1st reaction is always the same; a surprised look on their face & a "Wow, is that ever sweet!" or "That tastes just like candy" type of comment. Everybody finishes the apple (nobody's ever disliked it enough to stop eating) but some people fall in love with the variety & can't get enough of them, while others decide it's too cloying.

      I wonder if it was a smaller apple, more people would prefer it. Sort of like a super-sized milkshake or candy bar. For lots of people (maybe they have more sophisticated palates than I do)the sugar & flavour seem to be a bit overwhelming.

      Thanks for your reply & especially, Thanks for your blog!!!

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