Let’s Talk Food: The Cosmic Crisp apple

  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson A sliced Cosmic Crisp apple.
  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson Cosmic Crisp apple.

Breeding of the Cosmic Crisp apple began in 1997 at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, Washington, with Bruce Barriit in charge of the project.

This new apple combines the texture and juiciness of the Honeycrisp and the late-ripening and long storage and scab resistant Enterprise apple. The Cosmic Crisp has a uniformly dark red skin, dense firm flesh, and an improved shelf life. It is so dense that the apple feels heavy in your hand. People in the industry were heard to say, “excellent eating experience.” One non-industry person, who was given a Cosmic Crisp that was in storage for seven months said, with appreciation, “I can feel the structure of its insides.”

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“The look of the apple’s light lenticels against its wine-red skin reminded focus groups of a galaxy against a night sky, thus the name Cosmic Crisp,” said Brooke Jarvis of The Launch, The California Sunday Magazine.

The Cosmic Crisp is the first widely-grown apple variety developed in Washington and is presently only available to Washington state orchards and households for the next ten years as Washington State University owns the Cosmic Crisp patent.

Once apple growers tasted the Cosmic Crisp, they pulled out other varieties of apple trees and planted these trees. The hype for the Cosmic Crisp was so great that in 2014, Washington State University had a lottery for the 300,000 saplings as they had requests for 4 million saplings. In 2017, 12 million trees were pre-ordered by these growers. Presently there are 13 million trees in the ground and about half a billion dollars invested to the Cosmic Crisp. The growers paid a royalty for each tree purchased and will pay for each box of apples sold, which will be used to fund future breeding projects and a shared marketing campaign to launch this new apple.

The orchards look more like a vineyard as trees are planted six feet apart and there could be 1,800 trees, trellised. This compares to traditional orchards with only one hundred trees per acre. Smaller trees were grafted onto the roots of dwarf varieties, which makes it easier to harvest and prune.

The Cosmic Crisp ripens at the same time as the Red Delicious apple and is now expected to replace it as THE apple to buy. Similar to the Envy apple, it does not brown quickly after it is cut open so is great in salads. It can be left in the refrigerator for quite awhile before it goes bad.

And so now that I got you so excited, the first Cosmic Crisp apples is expected to hit the market today! Once out, it is expected to replace not only the Red Delicious but the Pink Lady and the Honeycrisp also.

The New York Times described the Cosmic Crisp as “dramatically dark, richly flavored and explosively crisp and juicy, making it the most promising and important apple of the future.”

Northwest Public Radio states that Washington state, which produces 70% of America’s apples, is betting that the Cosmic Crisp will “conquer” the market in December.

Food Republic called it “firmer that the Honeycrisp, but not too firm. And it is high in both sugar and acidity, making it far superior to the Red Delicious, Gala and Fuji varieties as well.”

Through the Washington Apple Commission and other agencies, there will be a $10 million consumer launch with the two taglines “Imagine the Possibilities” and “The Apple of Big Dreams.” This campaign will be the largest ever in the apple industry history.

I tried to order a Cosmic Crisp tree online from Raintree Nursery in Washington. Dwarf trees are selling for $32.50. They tell you that It will grow in USDA zones 5-9, grow up to 12 feet, prefers sun and will ripen in September. But then in red letters says, “The plants are licensed and limited by WSU to only be sold to people residing and growing the plants in the state of Washington. Please note: May not ripen if planting in Western Washington.”

Stemilt World Famous Fruit, of Wenatchee,Washington, one of the wholesalers of Cosmic Crisp apples, calls these apples “The dream apple with perfect flavor.”

Their website advises how to pick apples: Pick up the apple and gently press a small area of the fruit’s skin. It should be firm to the touch. Avoid apples that are noticeably soft, discolored or indent easily after you press the skin. As you hold the apple, turn it completely in your hand to visually inspect the quality. Some markings on the fruit(like a scuff or specks) comes from nature and doesn’t signal a bad apple. However, apples with bruising or obvious signs of decay should be avoided. You can also glance at the color of the apple. Color isn’t the best indicator of taste, but does help as apples with full color absorb lots of sunlight which leads to increased flavor.

Give your apple a sniff! A fresh, high quality apple should have a pleasant aroma.

The website goes on and tells you about refrigerating them, freezing, and recipes. However, since the Cosmic Crisp is not out till December, there are no recipes for specifically for the Cosmic Crisp on the website yet. But since it is a great apple for baking as well as snacking, recipes such as the Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Healthy Waldorf Salad or Apple Pie Ice Cream would work with this apple.

I received some samples of Cosmic Crisp apples in the mail. It is juicy, crispy, with floral tones, but not too much (just right), a little bit of tartness but not too much, (just right). When eaten next to a Honeycrisp, the Cosmic Crisp was sweeter, crunchier, and juicier.

The Honeycrisp has a bit of sourness of a Granny Smith with the texture of a Fuji.

The Fuji, the sweetest of all apples, was not as crunchy as the Cosmic Crisp.

When the Cosmic Crisp arrives at our supermarkets, hopefully really soon, as the premier date is today, Dec. 3, you all need to judge for yourself if this apple is the one!

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Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Arts Cafeteria is open from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Call 934-2559 for take-out orders.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.