Friday, September 18, 2015

Rockit *

The modern breeds tend to be alike: sturdy, crisp, and sweet.

Today's new variety from New Zealand is all that but breaks away from the pack by virtue of its great crunch, distinctive appearance (these guys are little), and unusual flavors.

These classically shaped apples, a bit blocky, are only about 2 inches in diameter. A cheerful red blush mostly covers yellow.

Lenticels are nearly invisible but some samples have large tan spots near the top.

Lightly ribbed, each Rockit sits atop a distinctively recessed calyx; the calyx itself is open.

That sort of information—CalyxLenticels?—can be helpful sometimes identifying apples on the hoof. It's unlikely you are going to need to squint and wonder what these are in your supermarket, however, because Rockit has been branded to a fare-thee-well. More anon.

Bite one of these little guys for breaking crisp coarse yellow flesh, juicy and with a robust crunch. They are predominantly sweet with notes of carrot (sometimes) and clove.

This is not overpowering but in some samples the clove is quite pronounced, an unusual flavor both enjoyable and successful. It sets Rockit apart.

Rockit's crunch is closer to Honeycrisp than Arkansas Black. It crackles but won't hurt your jaw.

All that and sweet clove. What's not to love? One will leave you hungry for more.

Given all that, the clever space-age packaging seems almost redundant, with Rockits stacked in a clear tube like a 3-stage orbital shot. (Or, which may be closer to the point, like a tube of Pringles potato chips.)

Rockit, a cross with Gala, is being introduced into North America by Borton & Sons and Chelan Fresh Marketing. (At least I hope Chelan is still in the game in the wake of the terrible fires in Washington State last month.)

Right now they are growing the first American Rockit trees, which won't bear fruit in mass-market quantities until 2018.

The growers have an exclusive license and are also importing Rockits from New Zealand, where my samples grew last spring. Incidentally, those apples were in great shape last week.

Discosure: I got mine direct from Borton's marketing department.

That's great for me, since they are not yet available in New England, but it means I do not know how much these will cost in supermarkets. I'm guessing premium pricing.

Rockit is, of course, a registered trademark. The only other name for this cultivar is the unlovely PremA96. Nope, I don't think the trademark holder has to worry about repeating the whole Pink Lady–Cripps Pink debacle.

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