Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Cosmic Crisp vs. SugarBee smackdown

Two large red apples
In the realm of Honeycrisp and its two principal rivals, EverCrisp and Cosmic Crisp, the SugarBee (R) is but a poor relation.

Why, it doesn't even have the word "crisp" in its name.

But it comes from the same stock and aims for the same effect.

So join me for a comparison tasting with Cosmic Crisp (L), since I am fortunate to have both today.

Honeycrisp continues to define this category of apples that are super sweet, very juicy, and explosively crisp.

The Honeycrisp is Cosmic Crisp's pollen parent (father), and also the mother of EverCrisp and SugarBee.

So let's take a look at this sibling relationship. Is it rivalry or something else?

Looking closely

A large red appleThese two apples look a lot alike. Cosmic's red blush is a bit more saturated, and slightly less orange, than Sugar Bee's, but they are close.

Both are decorated by tan lenticel dots that vary in size, and both are about the same shape and size (large).

My Bee shows many small dents, artifacts of storage and transportation. (My Cosmics came packed in foam from the grower.)

Maybe they are fragile in that way, or maybe mine just had a rough trip.

The two smell sweet, but not in the same way. Cosmic has that unusual smokey note, while Sugar Bee is pure apple cider.

The proof in the eating

Biting in, Sugar Bee has coarse-grained yellow flesh with plenty of juice and a first-rate crunch.

The honeydew and spice notes, and the enticing suggestion of something alcoholic that I found in my tasting sample in 2017, are still present.

Oh, and it's pretty sweet. But those flavors make it palatable.

The flesh of Cosmic Crisp is very similar in texture and color and crunch. It is perhaps a degree denser. Without being any less sweet Cosmic brings more balancing tartness.

In this context, Cosmic's flavors are less obvious. There is that floral note, but the smokiness I have found in some samples, though still present, expresses itself more as a savory quality—which is also echoed in Sugar B.

Which is best?

These apples are not especially amiable companions. A bite of Cosmic after Sugar Bee lacks distinction, though the measure of tart is pleasant; a bite of the Bee after Cosmic tastes thin and saccharine.

Both improve on the second bite after the switch.

Still you wouldn't eat both of these in one sitting unless you were very hungry or, in my case, curious.

I went back and forth on these, initially favoring SugarBee. But at the end of it all, it is a draw between these similar and related varieties.

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