Crunch Time

A new apple might outshine the Honeycrisp

Those of us who grew up with Red Delicious apples tucked inside our lunchboxes eventually realized that those glossy, thick-skinned pieces of fruit didn't actually taste so delicious.

Then we discovered the hypercrunchy, sweet-tart Honeycrisp, a contemporary breed whose soaring popularity caused The New York Times to dub it the "iPod of apples."

This fall, Honeycrisp's creator–the University of Minnesota–is releasing a cultivar that's poised to become the new apple of our eye.

Scientists crossed Honeycrisp with another U of M apple called Zestar, an early ripener noted for its robust brown-sugar flavor. The result is the singular SweeTango.

Though its name may sound silly, SweeTango is tempting enough to inspire original sin: It has a delicate skin, an ear-ringing crunch, a rush of sweet-tart flavor and peach-rivaling juiciness.

To protect SweeTango's integrity, it's only being raised by a cooperative of growers who will ensure that stores and farmers' markets sell only top-quality fruit.

Right now, SweeTango apples are available at retailers in the Twin Cities, Seattle, and Rochester, N.Y., but they'll spread nationwide next year–just in time for pie season.