September 25th is National Apple Day.
New apple varieties are in development constantly, usually in the agricultural departments of universities.
The objectives vary; for example, to create an apple that will grow better or produce more in particular soils and climates.
Breeders also seek to meet changing consumer demands. Crispy, for example, is now in demand.
And of course, they’re looking for the next big hit: the next Honeycrisp or Cosmic Red.
During breeding, approximately 45 different traits in the apple and the tree are tested. Here’s more about it.
Red and juicy Rave is a new “signature apple” apple from Stemilt, a prominent grower headquartered in the state of Washington.
Rave is very juicy with a with “zippy flavor” and a “refreshing snappy zing,” says Stemilt.
We’re more prosaic. We’d call it very juicy and crunchy with an elegant tartness.
Rave was first introduced to consumers in the summer of 2017—seventeen years after it was first developed by David Bedford of the University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program. (He’s the same person behind the Honeycrisp apple).
It takes a long time to crossbreed an apple without using GMOs. Thousands of different crosses were made to narrow Rave down to the final varietal.
Rave is grown in Mattawa, Washington—approximately two hours north of the Oregon border. The area was chosen because it has the warmth and low altitude ideal for growing the variety.
The early ripener ripens in July, and picking begins at the end of the month. It is ready to sell in August.
When apples are picked, the bins sit in cold storage for four to five days (or for weeks, with other varieties), to let the fruit “settle.” The cells firm up a bit so they don’t bruise during packing and shipping.
As more Rave-bearing trees come have into production, there is finally enough Rave to distribute nationwide. We just got a box a few weeks ago.
Rave has a short growing season, so look for it now.
Rave is a cross between the resoundingly popular Honeycrisp apple and an unreleased breeding variety called MonArk, chosen for its ability to ripen early with good color, while maintaining a crisp, juicy texture through the summer heat.
The MonArk is an apple from Arkansas, bred for that area’s severe heat and humidity. While traditionally apples get their color from fall cold snaps, the Rave is made for the heat and colors well in the heat.
Honeycrisps aren’t typically picked until early September; but Rave’s early ripening enables them to be picked in late July, kicking off apple season earlier. It is the earliest-ripening apple in Washington. (Washington is the number one producer of apples in the U.S.)
The journey to develop a new apple cultivar is not a quick process and requires great efforts, says Stemilt.
During the 17 years from original breeding to the final release and licensing of Rave to Stemilt, the University of Minnesota conducted rigorous testing to ensure the variety was of high enough quality to be commercially released.
This process included five to six years of growing tests at multiple locations across the U.S.
Stemilt has the exclusive rights to grow and market Rave in North America.
The name of a new apple is chosen when it’s ready to be licensed. The breeder and the grower decided that the MN55 cultivar would be called Rave.
Rave is a snacking apple. Like most apples, it tastes best when it’s chilled or cold.
It’s great in a fruit salad, but not hardy enough to take the heat of a stovetop or oven cooking. Instead:
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