Diva Apples

This is my third installment in a series of reviews of New Zealand grown apples that I found at Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first two were the Breeze and Royal Joburn varieties. The final one of the series is the Diva apple. I have enjoyed getting to try new apples when we are far removed from apple season here.

The Diva apple was developed in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, which is located on the east coast of the North Island. The climate there is dry and temperate. This area is renowned for it’s vineyards and orchards. The Diva apple is grown there by both conventional and organic means. The sample I purchased was organic. The other apples I mentioned with both conventional. It is available during late spring in the United States.

Diva Apples

The apple is a beautiful red color with light streaks of color and a round shape. The name “DIVA” goes along with the trend of giving apples short, 4 letter names – Jazz, Envy, Kiku, so and so. It’s easier to get the name boldly on the sticker of the fruit if you have a short name. From a marketing perspective it makes sense, although I don’t really love the name Diva.

Diva Apples

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 4
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 8
Juiciness 10
Where I Bought Them Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati OH)

Overall Feeling:
Every new apple that comes out seems to always be about two things – sweet and crisp with flavor being a distant third. I was thinking oh no not another sweet, crunchy, yet flavorless apple. This has some flavor along with a bit of acidity, so it’s more than drinking sugar water – try a Sonya apple if you want that experience. It’s super juicy. One of the juiciest apples I have ever had! Plenty of juice for juicing making.

I only purchased one of these apples to try as they were organic and imported so the price was high ($3.49 per pound).

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Joburn Apples

I am reviewing New Zealand apple varieties this week. First up was the Breeze apple, today I am talking about the (Royal) Joburn apple. It is another apple that is an exclusive variety of Freshco. By the name you might be thinking that this is a combination of a Braburn and a Jonathan apple like how a Jonagold is a mix of Jonathan and Golden Delicious. That sound promising. As I Googled the apple I was met with disappointment that Joburn is actually more like a Kiku apple in that is it a sport variety of another apple. Kiku apple come from a Fuji mutation and the Jobburn apple is a genetic mutation of a Braeburn apple. As you see by the appearance the Joburn has quite a bit more red than a Braeburn, in fact the entire apple was full red. Red colored apples appeal to the eye of the customer. It is why the Red Delicious become so popular and so red – yet at the expense of flavor.

Joburn Apples

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 5
Apple Flavor 6
Sweetness 6
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati OH)

Overall Feeling: Braeburn apples you get from New Zealand I find to better than the U.S. grown ones. Domestic Braeburn are very inconsistent in quality. The Joburn is an improved Braeburn. While not my favorite apple these weren’t bad at all. Nothing I would actively seek out but if choosing amongst other apples it would have a chance. As it is a type of Braeburn you can use it the same way you would use any other Braeburn. So you can cook with it and it will hold it’s shape. Joburn is a bit sweeter than I would like for a cooking/baking apple – however it can work in the absence of better options.

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Breeze Apples

I recently took a trip with the family to Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. We had an awesome time of camping, hiking, and sightseeing. On the way back from our trip I stopped at Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a monstrous grocery store, always with something new for me to check out for the blog. They have two locations and this time I was visiting the newest one. As I hit up the vast produce department I came across a few new varieties of apples that I have not tried before. Boy was I excited! It’s rare for me to find that many varieties that I haven’t tried in one place. They are all from New Zealand. The fall season just finished in New Zealand, and they ship plenty of apples to the states (I have seen 4 new varieties total just this season). Out of all exported apples, I see more from New Zealand than any other country. The first up for review is the Breeze apple.

The Breeze apple is distributed by FreshCo. The company was founded in 1989. Breeze is their exclusive variety. It is one of the earliest apples to be harvested in New Zealand. It’s vivid, pretty red apple. It has the look, now does it have the taste to back it up?

Breeze Apples

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 4
Apple Flavor 5
Sweetness 7
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati OH)

Overall Feeling:
A decent eating apple, sweet, but not in your face sweet. I don’t like apples that are just sweet. Mild flavor. Nothing spectacular but better than the flavorless mealy apples you find in June that are grown domestically. I would buy them again if I ever come across them. I didn’t see any of them in stores where I live.

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Topaz Apples

How often do you associate apples with the Czech Republic? You may have thought that they only come from our country with the exception of those Fujis from the far east. I hate to burst your bubble but American as apple pie isn’t quite right. Apples are not native to North America. They originated in Central Asia and spread into Europe to countries like the Czech Republic. This is the same country that the growing in popularity Opal apple comes from. In fact the apple I am going to review today is a parent of the Opal apple. The Topaz apple originated in the Czech Republic in the 1990s. It is known for being a disease resistant apple, good news for apple growers.

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 8
Apple Flavor 8
Sweetness 3
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Busch's (Saline MI)

Topaz Apples

Overall Feeling: If you are a fan of a more tart apple, then you will enjoy Topaz. It has a sharp, clean tart flavor that is juicy and enjoyable. I do not feel it’s too tart to enjoy out of a hand. A good altertnative during the winter months to the Granny Smith. This apple would make an excellent dessert apple. My wife really wants to try use them for some cinnamon fried apples. Would be a great option for pie, although I do like an apple that is a little drier for pie, Topaz I am sure would work.

Where to Find Topaz Apples?
I got mine at my neighborhood Busch’s store. This is the only place I have seen this apples. The sticker that came with the apple did not provide me with any information on who grew the apple. If anyone else has spotted this apple, please share where you got it and what you think of it.

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Green Dragon Apples

Anyone that know me, knows how I excited I get to try a new piece of fruit. I am searching them out all the time. Sometimes when searching for new produce to try, a name can attract my attention. When I saw the Green Dragon apple on Frieda’s Specialty Produce website, I was intrigued. At least it’s a great name. You also don’t see a ton of green apples not named Granny Smith on the market. When some arrived at my front door I couldn’t wait for that first bite.

Green Dragon originated in Japan. It’s a cross between an Orin or an Indo apple (I read both online, not sure which it is really is) and a Golden Delicious. It’s an heirloom variety that Frieda’s is trying to get the word out about. It’s green with small brown spots. To avoid people thinking these spots mean the fruit is bad, Frieda’s has started putting stickers on the apples that say “Freckled Skin”. They are a later season apple, being made available in October and November.

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 1
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 8
Juiciness 8

Overall Feeling: People think that green apples must be tart, like it’s some universal law. If they ever bit into a Green Dragon their story would change in a hurry. This apple is anything but tart. Hard to find any tartness in it. It’s a pure sweet as they get. If you like tartness in your apples, your not going to like this one. But if you are a sweet apple fan, fan of the modern day sweet favorites like Galas or Fujis then you are in for a treat with this apple. It has a better, more complex flavor than those popular apples. To me it has hints of tropical and pear flavors. The apple has that pear like sweetness. Juicy and refreshing. Green Dragon are best enjoyed right out of hand. Not enough tartness for me to want to cook with.

Look for Green Dragon apples wherever you find Frieda’s products. Ask your store’s produce manager about availability. The crop is said to be bigger this year but they are still in short supply, so don’t hesitate.

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Friedas and Heirloom Orchards

Last week, I received another package from my friends at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. I was super excited to have the chance to try 3 new for me, yet very old varieties of organic heirloom apples grown at Heirloom Orchards in Hood River, Oregon. The wonderful thing about these 3 varieties – King David, Roxbury Russett, and Orleans Reinette is that they all look and taste different. I couldn’t have picked out better 3 better apples to taste together. This is my version of the perfect wine tasting. The really cool thing about each of these heirloom apple is the history behind them. Each have a story to tell that is captivating and full of American history. History buffs get ready for a blast through American’s apple past.

King David Apples

King David was discovered by Ben Frost in Arkansas in 1839. It was originally promoted in the late 19th century by the Stark Bros Nursery, one of the country’s most famous nurseries. It is likely a cross between a Jonathan and a Arkansas Black. We aren’t 100% sure as this was a chance seedling. The trees are able to perform well in warmer southern climates.

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 6
Apple Flavor 9
Sweetness 6
Juiciness 7

Overall Feeling: This apple had a very fruity taste, similar to a fruit punch drink that isn’t too sweet. I found notes of cherry in the flavor with a slightly spicy finish on the tongue. The apple has the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It might be the most perfectly balanced apple I have ever come across! It was crisp and juicy enough to be satisfying. A great apple for out of hand eating, also works well in juice or cider.

Orleans Reinette

This variety is even older than the King David. It is believed to have originated in France the same year our country was fighting for it’s independence!

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 6
Apple Flavor 10
Sweetness 5
Juiciness 4

Overall Feeling: Very complex taste, that will just blow your mind. It has the tart flavor of a good piece of citrus – something I have never experienced in an apple before. It finished with some nutty flavor. One of the best out of hand apple eating experiences I have had! There are reasons why this apple is not available on store shelves across this country. It does not keep that well and the trees don’t produce like most commercial varieties, so it’s not easy to find. The fun thing about buying heirlooms is that these apples are grown for the flavor, not for how much profit they can bring in. It’s a way I really appreciate and admire.

Roxbury Russet

Last up is the Roxbury Russett. I have had several Russet apples. These apples normally have brown coloring in their skin, much like that of a Russett potato. As you see in the picture above this apple doesn’t have a lot of brown, mostly green. With this particular variety the amount of “russeting” depends on the year. I have had Russets that were completely brown.

The really cool thing about this apple is that it may be the first apple ever developed in American history! The name “Roxbury” comes from the town of Roxbury in the Massachusetts Bay Colony where it was grown even before our independence in the early 17th century. This apple was also part of the famous Thomas Jefferson orchard at Monticello. Talk about an apple with a history – a history that I got to taste!

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 6
Tartness 6
Apple Flavor 9
Sweetness 4
Juiciness 5

Overall Feeling: My wife described this apple as having a pure apple flavor. When you think of what an apple tastes like, this is the apple you are thinking of. It has such a clean, tart flavor, with enough sugar to it for out of hand enjoyment.

I am very appreciative of Frieda’s for sending me these organic heirloom apples. They were a delight to try. Check out the other apples they have send me. Here is a short list below of where you might purchase these apples. If you want to see a store in your area carry them, call your store and ask the produce manager about Organic Heirloom apples from Frieda’s. Make sure to check at any store that carries Frieda’s products. You can find stores that do by searching using their online store locator. If I receive more store information I will provide it here.

Store Listing
Sprouts in California and Nevada
Central Markets in Texas

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Honeycrisp Apples on Tree

Looking for the best deal on Honeycrisp Apples? I have collected prices across the nation to attempt to find out the best deal on American’s new favorite apple. Here are the results of my research. What I found is a large range in prices, some low and some pretty high even on sale. I included a few organic prices too. If you have any information that you can contribute please leave a comment below telling me the price and the location of Honeycrisp apples. I also have an organic list below.

Please note for chain stores I listed an exact location featuring the price. It can vary location to location so check your local store.

Related Post – Why Are Honeycrisp So Expensive

Hillers | All Michigan Apples including Honeycrisp for $.99/pound (Sept 23rd to Oct 6th Ad) | Ann Arbor, Michigan
Meijer | Michigan Grown for $1.77/pound (Sept 29th Ad) | Ann Arbor, Michigan
Kroger | Michigan Grown for $1.88/pound (Sept 30th Ad) | Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dominicks | Michigan Grown for $1.99/pound (Oct 2 to Oct 8 Ad) | Chicago, Illinois
Ralphs | $2.49/pound (Wednesday, October 2 through Tuesday, October 8 Ad) | Southern California
Whole Foods Market | $2.49/pound | Ann Arbor, MI
Sweetbay Suppermarket | $2.49/pound (Oct 2 to Oct 8 Ad) | Tampa, Florida
The Fresh Market | $2.98/pound (regularly $4/pound) (Oct 2 to Oct 8 Ad) | Toledo, Ohio

Who Has the Cheapest Organic Honeycrisp Apples

Publix | $3.49 pound (normally $5 lb) through October 9th
Whole Foods Market | $3.99/pound | Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Sweetie Apples

I am all about following what’s the latest and greatest in the apple world. There are new varieties coming out all the time. Everyone wants to have the next Honeycrisp. Broetje Orchards in Washington are growing a new apple called the Sweetie. It is distributed by First Fruits Marketing. They also released the Opal apple a few years back. The apple itself originated in New Zealand.

Are Sweetie Apples GMO
No. They were made by crossing a Gala and a Braeburn the old fashion way. As of now they are no commercially available genetically modified apples (read my post on GMOs & Apples).

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 9
Tartness 1
Apple Flavor 1
Sweetness 10
Juiciness 9
Where I Got Them Meijer (Ypsilanti MI)

Overall Feeling: This apple sure lives up to it’s name. It is super sweet, crisp, and juicy. One of the sweetest apples I ever had. But really no tartness to balance that and in the end no real flavor. It was like eating water. I couldn’t wait to be done with it. I have no desire to try one of these apples again. It does look pretty and has the sweet, crisp, and juicy elements that people seem to ask for. Have our standards gotten so low that those are all we care about and flavor doesn’t come into the equation?

Are Sweetie Apples Good for Cooking or Baking?
In my opinion the only useful thing this apple may have is added to a batch of applesauce containing tart apples, to add some sweetness. They are way too sweet and flavorless to bake with.

Of course this is all just my experience. What’s yours? I am sure they are people out there that still do enjoy this apple and I am not going to complain about someone eating fruit. If you wish to try Sweetie Apples, they should be available at the end of September and beginning of October in these locations:

Pacific Northwest
Haggen
Safeway
Winco

California
Safeway

Texas
Central Market
HEB

Midwest
Byerly’s
Lunds
Hy-Vee
Meijer

Florida
Sweetbay

Here are some apple related kitchen tools I recommend:
Amco Dial-A-Slice Adjustable Apple Corer and Slicer : Allows you to slice apples into either 8 or 16 pieces
Zyliss Soft Skin Peeler : The best peeler I have ever owned. Does a great job peeling an apple.
Mirro Foley 2-Quart Stainless Steel Food Mill : A great tool for making your own applesauce. You can make the sauce without having to do any peeling.

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Blondee Apples

After last year’s tragedy apple crop lost here in Michigan, I was really looking forward to getting out and picking some apples this year. We decided to head over to Fruit Acres Farm in Coloma, Michigan. I have been wanting to go to this u-pick farm for years. My in-laws from California met us there in a surprise to our kids. I was most excited about this apple picking trip with the chance to pick and try and new apple, the Blondee. This apple is was discovered by covered Tom and Bob McLaughlin of Portsmouth, Ohio. No genetically modification apple here. It is believed to be related to the Gala apple. It ripens just a few days before Galas around early September. It doesn’t have the same color as Gala at all but the shape does look like a Gala.

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 5
Apple Flavor 8
Sweetness 7
Juiciness 8
Where I Got Them Fruit Acres Farm (Coloma MI)

Overall Feeling: A wonderful early season apple! A good crunch and juicy. It has really good flavor with some floral notes. One of the best yellow apples I ever had. I enjoy more than Golden Delicious or Golden Supreme and it’s on par with Ginger Gold which are available around the same time.

Are Blondee Apples Good for Cooking or Baking?
I tested them out in some mini pies I made. They cooked up nicely. They were able to hold their shape. I don’t think cooking them really enhance their flavor, but they aren’t a bad option if you have some on hand. They would work well in adding more sweetness to an applesauce made with McIntosh apples that are available at the same time. I think that would be a winning combo.

Where Can I Buy a Blondee Tree?
Adams County Nursery
Stark Bros

Farms That Grow Blondee Apples
Fruit Acres Farm (Coloma, MI)
Tree-Mendus (Eau Claire, MI)
Mackintosh Fruit Farm (Clarke County, VA)
McDougal Orchards (Springvale, ME)
Harvest Time Orchards (Twin Lakes, WI)
Tougas Family Farm (Northboro, MA)
Steffens Orchards & Market (Sparta, MI)

Here are some apple related kitchen tools I recommend:
Amco Dial-A-Slice Adjustable Apple Corer and Slicer : Allows you to slice apples into either 8 or 16 pieces
Zyliss Soft Skin Peeler : The best peeler I have ever owned. Does a great job peeling an apple.
Mirro Foley 2-Quart Stainless Steel Food Mill : A great tool for making your own applesauce. You can make the sauce without having to do any peeling.

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SweeTango Apple non GMO

If you have been paying any attention to food in the last year or two, the three letters G.M.O. would have at least crossed your path once if not a bunch of times. Everyone is talking about GMOs. With good reason, I don’t think they are good for us. However when an issue gets this much publicity they are bound to be some confusion and misinformation out there.

As the GMO debate has been raging on a new apple variety has been taking the nation by storm. I am talking about the SweeTango. It is a cross between a Zestar and a Honeycrisp. Now when people hear this, is when some get worried. They see the word cross and think someone started gentically modifiing Honeycrisp to make a better apple. I have had people coming to my site searching for this information. Well I am here to clear the air about this. SweeTango are NOT GMOs. Nor is any commercially available apple. Yes, SweeTango was created directly by man. But it was done in the way that apples have been crossed for centuries. Whenever a popular apple comes along or one with at least 1 desirable trait, people will try cross it with another apple to create a new apple that may be even better. Every apple you are going to have is some kind of cross. Like I said before a SweeTango was made when someone at the University of Minnesota crossed a Zestar apple with a Honeycrisp. The Honeycrisp itself was a cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold. Other crosses of popular apples include: Gala (Golden Delicious X Kidd’s Orange Red), McIntosh (Fameuse X possibly Detroit Red), Golden Delicious (Grimes Golden?), Jonagold (Jonathan X Golden Delicous).

Is there a risk of a GMO apple in the future? Yes they is. While currently no GMO apples are available commercially here in the United States – Okanagan Specialty Fruits from Canada are trying to get approval from the USDA to introduce GMO apples to the market. They have developed both a Golden Delicious and Granny Smith GMO apple that resists browning and bruising. So until that happens and I am hoping it doesn’t, you won’t find GMO apples in any store.

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