Monday, January 28, 2013

Opal *

Large Opal's lively lemon yellow is dialed back just a notch by a drop of orange. Conical and ribbed, she is sparsely decorated with large brown lenticels and a brown crown of russet. One sports a small spotty patch of pink blush.

Unbroken, Opal has a strong aroma of cider and honey and a whiff of spice. Her calyx is only half closed.

Inside Opal has coarse crisp yellow flesh bearing sweet juices. Her flavor is nonetheless balanced with enough subtle acidity to keep things interesting.

Each bite starts light and sweet with a hint of watermelon candy (where have we had that before?) and settles down to something suggestive of Golden Delicious, with hints of honey, vanilla, and spice.

Oh, and not a hard apple, but the texture is good.

Opal is a gem. Her harmonious flavors and crisp texture are easy to appreciate and at the same time reward the attentive taster with a few subtle touches.

Opal is the daughter of two underrated varieties, sturdy Golden Delicious and snappy Topaz. This apple is a happy meld, as Topaz's crunch and tart notes enliven Golden D's honeyed goodness.

If you detect a pattern you are right: Topaz and Opal are products of the same apple-breeding program. It turns out that the Czech Republic is a sort of apple powerhouse. More apple bling of this sort, please!


  1. It's a beautiful apple. I'll have to look for it. It is fascinating to me how color and variation have come back into fashion in the modern apple market, after a twentieth century that was characterized by an obsession with uniformity in color and appearance (the age of the super-red Red Delicious.) While 20th century apple consumers appeared to desire uniformity and predictability in their apples, 21st century apple consumers appear to embrace new and distinctive varieties, and apples with some variations in color in their skin are increasingly popular. Do you mind if I share this on my blog? William Kerrigan

    1. William, I was struck by the same thought about the newer apples just last week when I saw them lined up at the supermarket. A return to flavor would be welcome!

      I wonder how much the new models of apple breeding and commercialization have to do with it.

      I'd be delighted to share this post on your own marvelous blog.

      I assume you mean fair-use excerpts with attribution. These do not actually require permission but I appreciate your courtesy in asking.

      I look forward to reading your take on this apple at your blog.

  2. Maybe somebody knows how to USDA zones of this sort?

  3. Andrey, hello! Since Opal was bred in Europe and has only one North American grower, it is understandable that the apple has not been rated by USDA zone.

    However, the grower in North America is located in southwest Washington State, which the USDA evaluates as zone 7.

    I hope that helps.

  4. Replies
    1. We have them, and also Jumani, at Stop & Shop right now.

      There is something very encouraging about seeing interesting new varieties in mass-market venues.

      By the way did you know that there's an @OpalApple twitter feed?

  5. We found these for the first time this year at Winco in Boise ID. The first bite had a hint of licorice and I was hooked. Opal has replaced Fuji as my favorite apple.

    1. There's something about Opal that is very smart, in the fashion sense. You should try Opal's sister jewel, Topaz, if you get the chance.

  6. I have been getting some Opals lately and I am beginning to appreciate them more. Still a little too sweet and mild for me, but I am appreciating its complexity.


Join the conversation! We'd love to know what you think.