The Rare Apple You Should Wait Months To Eat

When you think of an apple, maybe you envision a Red Delicious, a Granny Smith, or even a Honeycrisp. There are lots of different apple varieties, each one with its own unique flavor, appearance, and texture. Some recipes, like this decadent apple galette, specify a certain kind of apple to be used, in this instance the Pink Lady variety, chosen for its sweet-tart flavor. Apples grow in every state in the U.S., and the state of Washington produces the most, by a pretty large margin.

Some apples stay fresh longer than others. Stemilt World Famous Fruit explains that firm varieties like Fuji, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Gala hold up best, and varieties like Honeycrisp and Cosmic Crisp have been bred specifically to be delicious and stay fresh longer. That said, all these varieties of apples, though they can stay fresh for months, taste great when they're newly picked. They don't actually improve with age. There's one apple variety, though, that is markedly different.

Don't eat this rare apple right away

If you're lucky enough to encounter the Arkansas Black Apple, there are a few things you should know. Atlas Obscura explains that Arkansas used to be an important apple-producing state back in the 1920s, before the Great Depression and moth infestations inhibited production. The Arkansas Black Apple is an old variety, according to Specialty Produce, discovered by chance and cultivated in the 1870s. Today, just a few Arkansas growers produce their namesake Black Apples, though a handful of growers in the Pacific Northwest, Ohio, and California have planted this special apple variety as well.

What's perhaps most interesting — apart from the Arkansas Black Apple's standout color, of course — is that this dark-hued fruit doesn't taste good when it's first picked. While Specialty Produce notes that the apple can be cooked when it's freshly picked, Atlas Obscura warns that if you bite into one, you'll encounter sour flesh as hard as a rock. But if it's stored for at least a few months at cold temperatures, the fruit's thick, waxy skin protects it, and the flavors mellow, sweetening the apple. Bite into it then, and you'll be surprised with heady notes of cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, and coriander. If you find Arkansas Black Apples at a market, it's best to ask the seller if they've been aged or if you should tuck them away in the refrigerator and be patient.