Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Rave (First Kiss) *

A red apple with tiny light spots.

Suddenly, this new variety is everywhere.

My supermarket has them in the merely large size, and the grocery chain Trader Joe's has big ones for sale loose and little ones by the bag.

Stemilt, the grower with one of two North American licenses for this apple, sent me six huge ones, and that's what I have before me today.

These are handsome apples, for the most part round and squat, but there is one with some conical taper to it.

The red blush is saturated on some samples while on others the blush contains darker streaks. They are waxed and glossy.

The unblushed apple is a green-tinted shade of yellow, and the small lenticel dots are not at all easy to spot except in bright sunlight. The Raves have a faint, sweet aroma.

To make this more interesting, one of the the Stemilt apples is so different in appearance from the others that it must be a different variety. What can it be?

Assuming that the remaining five are the true Raves, let's take a bite.

Winning Texture

Rave's coarse-grained yellow flesh is light and hyper crisp, breaking off cleanly into juicy chunks. These have an almost melt-in-your-mouth quality.

The apple is quite sweet, though some tart qualities give it a some ballast (which is fortunate), and also a little spicy zing.

The dominant flavors are sugar and corn syrup, but there is some banana mixed into the middle of the chew, a quick flash of table grapes, and a floral note.

One criticism: all the sugar and the tart combine to make a finish that is a little harsh. It doesn't bother me, but it is the sort of thing that might count against Rave in the supermarket wars.

On those terms, however, Rave has the advantage of timing. Rave is picked in July.

There is nothing else so crisp and sweet this early, though Honeycrisp and Sweetango are not far behind. Those who prize these qualities in apples can now enjoy them in August.

Bred for Modern Tastes

Rave is a Honeycrisp x MonArk cross from the breeding program at the University of Minnesota. MonArk, another super early apple, was never commercialized. Honeycrisp you know (right?).

UMinn is licensing the same apple to the usual suspects in Minnesota under the name First Kiss.

Rave made its limited debut in 2017, and I think this must be the year of its grand rollout. As I type this, the Ravemobile is visiting select U.S. cities.

Some of Stemilt's promotional material for Rave is interesting, but that's for another time.

I hear good things about MonArk.



  1. Ohhh, and it is this very apple that brought me back to your blog today! To me this was a sweet apple and while you can definitely get hints of the tartness... all of the different flavors going on just seemed to fall flat. At least it was crisp-ish and juicy? Maybe I was expecting too much of something called "Rave", but I was very underwhelmed.

    Btw, quite happy to see you keeping up with the blog! Your reviews helped me choose apples for espalier in my backyard. Thanks to you, we've planted Grime's Golden, Cox's Orange Pippin, and Black Oxford. (We wanted to include Macoun but unfortunately couldn't find someone to ship bare root when we were ready to begin the project!)

    1. Thank you, Allie, for your good wishes!

      The mass market is converging on sweet and crisp. Certainly those are desirable, and Rave does a good job with them, but my tastes are a bit broader.

      Good luck with your tree (or is it trees?)!

  2. Next year I should have a MonArk I can send you.

    1. Steve, that would be very interesting, thanks! I hope you get a decent crop.

  3. While the taste was fine for me, I was not a fan of the texture. A bit too "airy" and almost pulpy. I feel I could slice it with a dull spoon and I like my crispness to come more from a good density I think.

    Figured I'd try it before my beloved Macoun show up down here in MD. ;)

    1. Always worth trying something new, Bill!

      I should think these are quite past prime by now, though. They are picked in August.

      With you on Macoun.


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