Crossbred between the snappy Honeycrisp and the early-ripening MonArk apples, the Rave apple came onto the market in 2017. Since then it has garnered a lot of press, mostly for the sweet notes mixed with a distinct crunch, much like its parent, the Honeycrisp. These smallish apples hit the shelves earlier than most, usually in August, and are gone by the end of September. Next time there's a Rave apple in the store, make sure to pick one up.
What Are Rave Apples?
The Rave apple came about thanks to scientist David Bedford, who works with the University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program. Bedford famously created the Honeycrisp, and the delicious (but not as popular) SweeTango apple. It took around 20 years to develop the Rave, which Bedford finally made by naturally crossing his beloved Honeycrisp with the MonArk, a tart apple from Arkansas. The result brought about the Rave apple, a fruit that's sweet with a slight pucker, firm in texture and juicy. It's pretty, too, with smooth red skin that's sprinkled with light dots and shows an occasional streak of yellow.
Although the reception of the Rave apple has been positive since the first harvest in 2017, production of this fruit remains small since the only place that cultivates it is Stemilt Growers in Washington. Rave apples have made such a splash in the booming apple scene because they are an early ripening apple, ready at the end of July and arriving in the grocery store in August—usually about a month before we see other popular apples.
How to Use Rave Apples
The best way to enjoy a Rave apple is to eat it raw, preferably cold. It's a delicate, crisp fruit that pairs well with earthy blue cheeses, herb-filled Havarti and non-spicy charcuterie. Try slicing it thinly and pressing with brie to make a sweet panini. Chunks of the Rave apple also go well in a simple fruit salad or diced and sprinkled on, or in, waffles and pancakes. This apple is more fragile than other varieties, which means it falls apart when cooked. That's not a bad quality when making applesauce or a dessert where a creamier texture is desired.
What Do They Taste Like?
Rave apples tip the sweet scale, close to a Honeycrisp but with a slight bit of tartness on the end. They have a lot of juice in them too, which pairs nicely with the firm and crunchy flesh. The skin of the Rave apple is thin and mild, so there's no need to peel it even when cooking.
Rave Apple Recipes
Rave apples are best raw, but when not eating fresh and crisp, use them to make many favorite desserts. As long as the recipe doesn't need the apple to stay in shape, as in, say, a French tart, you can use the Rave variety in many apple-themed dishes.
- Apple Pie Chips and Dip
- Goat Cheese, Rosemary Ham, Apple & Honey Sandwich With Fresh Arugula
- Sweet and Savory Apple, Blue Cheese and Fig Salad
Where to Buy Rave Apples
The window for buying Rave apples is small, as they are only available in August and September. Keep in mind that not every grocery store carries the fruit, though as production grows and more people know about it larger chains will start to regularly stock it. Rave apples have been available in stores such as Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Whole Foods and Safeway. No farmers' markets carry it, because this fruit only grows in Washington.
Rave apples should be stored like any apple, in a cool, dry place out of direct light such as the refrigerator. They can also be sliced, bagged, and frozen for use all year long.
Rave Apples vs. Granny Smith Apples
There is a bit of tartness to the newly minted Rave apple that mirrors that of the old-school Granny Smith. However, where the green Granny Smith apple's tart flavor tingles the taste buds, the red Rave apple's nuances are smoothly sweet. Both apples are firm and travel well, though the Granny Smith holds up better because the skin is thicker and flesh is denser. The Granny Smith is nice to slice and dip in caramel sauce or pair with an aged white cheddar, whereas the Rave apple goes better with cured meat and lighter, creamier cheeses.