Thursday, October 8, 2015

Snapdragon

Belying its name, the Snapdragon is neither (a) snappy and sharp nor (b) especially floral.


Instead it's a pleasant and mellow new variety courtesy of one of the oldest apple-breeding programs in America.

Large, conical, and moderately ribbed, Snapdragon's blush ranges from fire-engine red to shades of red-orange as it thins over the otherwise yellow peel.

Its numerous large tan lenticels really stand out. (Click the photo for a closer look.)

The fruit's calyx is mostly, but not entirely, closed. There's a nice cider aroma.

On the inside, crisp coarse yellow flesh, sweet but balanced by a decent amount of tart, is juicy and flavorful. The crunch is substantial but despite its Honeycrisp parentage a little restrained at the same time.

As for flavor, there are hints of cream soda and something a little like melon. Watermelon. These are rich but mellow flavors, interesting but easy to take, though I personally should prefer something a little sharper.

This another data point in my collection of next-generation modern varieties that seem to be distinguishing themselves with flavor. I like that trend.

Snapdragon and Rubyfrost are the two latest varieties from the apple-breeding program at Cornell.

They are still not widely available, and I am only able to taste them thanks to my Union Square (New York) greenmarket corespondent.

Snapdragon is a cross of Honeycrisp and an unnamed variety that Cornell describes as "similar to Jonagold."

13 comments:

  1. I just ate my first Snapdragon apple. I loved the texture; it was very crisp and crunchy, but the flavor really turned me off. It had an almost artificial apple taste to me which I found disagreeable. I'll go back to my Empires and Jonagolds and Winesaps.

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    1. I don’t see how anyone could reasonably argue with a taste for Empire, Jonagold, and Winesap.

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  2. I want to love this apple, it has the right parents (LOVE Melrose, but they are hard to find), but I like a tarter flavor. Will make a great pie apple I think.
    So funny, people love Empires, I find them insipid. Winesap was my first apple "love". Worked on an orchard near Albany, NY one year, came to adore them. (Also the only time I ever ate a Golden D I liked, right off the tree.)

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    1. Empire will never be a great apple, but I feel it is a good apple. Very reliable, and if you like a vinous apple what else is there in April?

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  3. I enjoyed the taste and texture of the snapdragon apple but it had a sour aftertaste.

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    1. Whereas I thought it not tart enough! De gustibus...

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  4. I am eating a Snapdragon, the first one I've ever had. So I came to your blog, Adam, to see if it is one you'd already reviewed. I had taken my first bite before I read anything you'd written. My first impression was that it did seem floral. Farther into the apple I don't get the floral sense, though. It seems more sweet than tart to me, a nice crunch and juicy. I find it satisfying enough and wouldn't mind eating more of them if some of my other preferred apples aren't around. But lately it is Sweet Tango that I'm especially enjoying. They are very flavorful this year.

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  5. I bought three of these yesterday. I ate one. I am summoning up the courage to try another. Maybe the next one will be better. I agree with the first commenter--it had an almost artificial taste. I can't say much more about why I didn't like it--I will have to try another and think more carefully. I think it did have an aftertaste problem....

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    1. Tried another one. The first few bites were fine, but then the aftertaste builds up. Maybe it's not so much a taste as a feel--perhaps some component of this apple actually acts as an irritant to some people?

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    2. A final follow-up: I tried eating the last of my Snapdragons peeled. Much better! It could be that the awful taste/sensation originates in the peel of the apple, but it is probably at least as likely that it came from something that they put on the apple. Most supermarket apples are waxed, and I'm sure not all waxes are created equal. I have a hard time believing that people would actually cultivate an apple that had such an awful aftertaste; but I can well believe that somebody sold the distributor some "magic wax" that preserved the apple but ruined it in the process.

      I used to have intestinal upset problems with Golden Delicious, too, if I didn't peel them. But I don't have that problem now, probably because I quit buying them from a source that used a certain formulation of wax. A quick rinse with water is unlikely to remove the offending coating, and I don't like the Snapdragons well enough to start scrubbing them with soap.

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    3. Mike, perhaps that explain it. Of the new offerings from Cornell, I prefer Rubyfrost, but didn't find any off notes in the Snapdragon

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  6. Dear Lucky Folks:

    I was traveling through Los Angeles county and happened upon this delicious apple aka the Snapdragon. It really was delicious. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find them in Northern CA.

    So while it may not be a favorite here I still think its a great apple and hope to find more. I do like granny smith and Fuji and thought that Snap dragon fell somewhere in the middle though closer to the sweet side. Of course I do also like the Gravenstein which I can get occasionally.

    I am very happy for you all, you seem to have access to a lot more varieties of apple, enjoy!

    Thanks for this blog, I didn't realize how many varieties there are!

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    1. Hey, Anonymous, thanks!

      I think production of Snapdragon is still ramping up. I saw them in a supermarket here for the first time just today.

      By the way, California (like most parts of the world) has its own great tradition of apples, many impossible to get here! So don't be too jealous.

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