Sweetie vs. SweeTango apples compete in a crunch-off
Just as we're rolling into peak local apple season, I received a sample of the Sweetie, a new-ish variety that recently made its local debut at Lunds and Byerly's.
Sweetie (left) vs. SweeTango (right)
Curious to see how the Washington-grown apple might stack up to Minnesota's own SweeTango, I submitted the two to a competitive crunch-off.
At first bite, the super-sweet Sweetie reminded me of an awful lot of a Gala, a very popular New Zealand cultivar that's an offspring of Golden Delicious--no surprise since Sweetie is a cross between Gala and Braeburn, another New Zealand apple. The apple has a pinkish/golden appearance--suggestive of a romantic's blushing cheeks?--a relatively firm texture, and sweet, straightforward flavor.
The U of M fruit breeding program developed SweeTango to capitalize on the success of Honeycrisp (it's a cross of Honeycrisp and Zestar). When fruit became available at retail last fall, I thought the apples weren't nearly as good as the ones I'd tasted the previous year at the U's Arboretum research orchards, but growers acknowledged that conditions had been rough. I picked this one up at the Wedge and thought it was a smash, just like the original: It had thin, taut skin, a deafening crunch, and gushed a bold, sweet/tart juice.
The Winner: SweeTango
The Sweetie seems too easy, pandering to blah, sweet-seeking palates, especially when it's compared to the intense sweet/tart contrast of the SweeTango. Also, SweeTango's crunch is fabulous. It's as if all its characteristics were optimized to design the perfect apple--probably because they were.