Saturday, December 23, 2017

SugarBee *

I thought my previous review would be the last for 2017, but happily a reader from Washington State decided to send SugarBee my way. Thank you, John!

The moment I unpacked these, something said "Honeycrisp" to me. It isn't size: these are large but not nearly as big as the H bomb. Nor is it shape.

I think its the orange tinged blush, which also has shimmery quality, at least in artificial light. That is Hcrisp-esque.

Either that, or I am just sensitive lately about Honeycrisp's outsized influence on the apple world, and was unconsciously triggered by the S word in SB's name.

In any case, my gut reaction proved true, see below.

In addition to the above description, note Sugar Bee's many large tan lenticel dots and underlying yellow peel (marked with green).

Some of my other samples are a bit broader in the beam, but all have a touch of the classic conical taper. SugarBee has only understated ribbing.

The peel is quite glossy and the fruit has a faint sweet aroma.

The bite unleashes a clean breaking crunch, with coarse, juicy yellow flesh. SugarBee is very sweet but with a sense of rich saturated flavors.

I say "sense of" because the sugar obscures individual tastes. Nonetheless, there is a distinct honeydew note that is especially prominent in the finish, and a generic floral quality throughout.

There is also some gingery spice, some confectioner's sugar, and hints of something close to caramel in the sweetness.

Most tantalizing is a heady, almost alcoholic quality in the heart of the bite, as if something had imbued each mouthfull with a micro-shot of Pommeau.

(Pommeau is tannic apple juice that has been fortified with Calvados or other apple brandy. It is very roughly the sherry or port of the apple world, though more accurately it is a mistelle.)

Although I am personally a little put off by the sugar level, this variety is impressive for its winning crunch and richness of flavor. And of course super sweetness is no bar to commercial success in this business; far from it.

SugarBee is Honeycrisp's daughter by an unknown pollen parent. Chelan Orchards, in central Washington State, has exclusive U.S. rights to this variety while the patent holds.

In 2014, when the apple was just known as "CN 121," Chelans's field horticulturalist told Good Fruit Grower that SugarBee would hit the market "by 2020."

The grower seem to have beaten that goal, at least locally. John, my Spokane benefactor, reports that he found his in a nearby supermarket.

If all goes according to plan, you'll be able to try these for yourself in a few years.



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