Honeycrisp winning fans with its explosive crispness
Honeycrisp is the apple of our eye these days.
With distinctive mottled red skin over a yellow background, these stunners are the hottest apples of the season. But it’s the explosive crispness and mild, honeyed flavour that’s really winning fans.
“Maybe apple people are getting a little overly excited about the Honeycrisp apple,” The New York Times wrote last year. “But, hey, if you had what you thought of as the apple business (tree-grown division) version of the iPod in your orchards, maybe you would get a little overly excited, too.”
Honeycrisp, according to the Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard, is “a superstar of apples.”
The U.S. connection is important because the Honeycrisp was developed from a 1960 cross of Macoun and Honeygold apples by the University of Minnesota.
Introduced to the public in 1991, they’re trendy in Canada, too. They grow best in colder climates and fetch premium prices of up to $1.49 a pound. Nova Scotia’s five-year Honeycrisp Orchard Renewal Program subsidizes apple producers who want to replace older trees (mainly McIntosh) with this popular newcomer.
The Ontario Apple Growers report that Honeycrisp production climbed an estimated 50.7 per cent between 2005 and 2007.
Honeycrisp and Ambrosia are our two fastest-growing varieties. Our top sellers remain McIntosh (30.2 million pounds in 2006), followed by Red Delicious (16.3 million) and Empire (15.5 million). That year, Honeycrisp production topped 1 million pounds.
At the Royal Winter Fair last month, the Ontario Apple Growers handed out 1,500 Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Red Delicious, Empire and Crispin apples at its booth in one day.
Il Fornello Roast Ontario Apple Salad
ron bull/torstar news service
Il Fornello’s executive chef Owen Steinberg turns Crispin apple rings into a stunning salad.
BACO BALSAMIC GLAZE:
- 1/2 cup baco noir
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup maple vinegar
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 shallot, peeled, halved
ROAST APPLE SALAD:
- 8 slices bacon, preferably smoked
- 2 large Crispin apples
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 tsp honey
- 1/4 cup coarsely grated 2-year-old white cheddar
- 2 cups baby spinach
FOR BACO BALSAMIC GLAZE: In small saucepan on medium heat, reduce wine to 1/4 cup. Add vinegar, onion, honey and bay leaf. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup. Strain onions and bay leaf. Refrigerate in squirt bottle until ready to use. (If possible, remove from fridge 1 hour before using.)
FOR MAPLE VINAIGRETTE: In small saucepan, reduce vinegar to 1/3 cup over medium heat. Stir in oil, sugar, salt, pepper and shallot. Refrigerate in squirt bottle until ready to use.
FOR ROAST APPLE SALAD: Cook bacon over medium heat until nearly crisp (about 80 per cent cooked). Drain on paper towels; halve each slice.
Core and peel apples, then cut each into 4 thick rings. (Don’t make ahead.) Season each with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium high. Add apple rings. Drizzle each with 1 tsp honey. Cook 2 minutes per side, until golden.
Transfer 4 apple rings to baking sheet. Arrange 4 pieces bacon on each apple slice (leaving core area open). Top each with 1 tbsp cheddar. In upper third of oven, broil on high 2 minutes. Top each ring with remaining apple rings to make “sandwiches.”
Divide spinach over centre of 4 plates. Top each with apple “sandwich” stack. Drizzle Baco Balsamic Glaze around rim of each plate (about 1 tsp or to taste). Drizzle Maple Vinaigrette over each apple stack (about 1 tsp or to taste).