This is not my delicious apple
November 9, 2010 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Have Fuji apples changed over the past 5 years or so?

I used to love Fuji apples. I thought they were a perfect mix of sweet and tart, and were really firm and crunchy.

But now, no. Whether organic and local or mass-farmed and far-shipped, they are watery and flavorless and only moderately crispy.

I am not imagining this. What might've happened? Did the cultivar change? Can I find my old Fujis anywhere? If not, are there any other apple varieties that offer what I'm looking for?
posted by TG_Plackenfatz to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you moved? Perhaps the Fujis you buy now have to make a longer trip and arrive to your local supermarket in a suboptimal condition.
posted by Nomyte at 4:53 PM on November 9, 2010

Have you changed the way you store your apples before you consume them? I cannot stand apples that have been stored at room temperature - they're mealy and flavorless. Refrigerated apples are crispy and flavorful.

Then again, I come from a staunchly Refrigerate Everything family.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 5:03 PM on November 9, 2010

Or maybe you've had a better variety in the meantime and what used to be perfect is now meh? While I don't think any major cultivars have changed over the last five years, one thing really has - the extent that people value local and heirloom produce varieties. Which has greatly expanded the number of varieties offered in any given supermarket, as well as inspiring a lot of stores to try more locally sourced stuff than they used to.

I think Fujis pale in comparison to Honeycrisps, for instance. However, back in the day when it was Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji? Then, yeah, probably Granny Smith and Fuji were the best you could get.
posted by Sara C. at 5:05 PM on November 9, 2010

Jazz apples, Jazz apples, Jazz apples! They are wonderful.
posted by Allee Katze at 5:16 PM on November 9, 2010

Best answer: yes, this - more watery and less crisp. Oversized, too. I have to go to the smaller ones they sell in big bags for "kids" to get back to a medium wet, unweepy apple with some texture to it.
posted by tilde at 5:22 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

I eat Fuji apples almost exclusively. In my years of consumption, I have encountered a vast range of differences in size, color, taste, texture, etc.

More recently, I've found differences even amongst the same "batch" of apples. I can't really describe my process of picking apples, but I stay away from the ones that are shiny from being waxed (often they are mixed in together) and choose apples with a slightly textured, non smooth skin. I really can't explain very well, I'm tempted to go to the store and take pictures for you! but I have had the same encounter as you when the apples were not fresh, ripe or stored properly.

I love the Fuji apples from the Farmer's market. Anybody who has ever eaten a apple right off the tree can attest that they have a completely different texture and taste. Nothing is more glorious than that. The farmer's market apples tend to have been picked more recently, consequently being as fresh as you can get nowadays and when they are ripe, you'll get the flavor and character Fuji apples are known for.

Good luck to you. I know there are excellent Fuji's out there. I enjoyed one the other night.
posted by loquat at 5:27 PM on November 9, 2010

Seconding Honeycrisps. I'm also fond of Pink Ladys.
posted by peacheater at 5:28 PM on November 9, 2010

All trees that produce a type of eating apple are genetically identical. So, that means your apple trees haven't change one bit but the way the apples are grown and handled might be making them crappy. There are a of factors that can be at play - how much water/sunshine the trees get, when they are harvested, how they are stored, and for how long are some that I would peg as the culprits.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:35 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I find that Fujis tend to be watery tasting, though I couldn't tell you if they used to be better. Generally, I find that I get the best apples by choosing from what is fresh and local, rather than sticking with a particular variety. Get thee to a market and start tasting some apples!
posted by ssg at 5:40 PM on November 9, 2010

Agreed with Allee Katze. Jazz apples are the new hotness.
posted by mnemonic at 5:42 PM on November 9, 2010

Try Cameos. Honeycrisps, too.
posted by applemeat at 5:48 PM on November 9, 2010

Honeycrisps and Staymans are really good this year in the Mid-Atlantic.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:19 PM on November 9, 2010

*puts on tinfoil hat*

I don't trust apples. I used to love them, but I can't eat them anymore due to an allergy. I blame it on all the genetic modification of foods, where genes of apples undergo engineering. To make them resistant to diseases, fungi, bacteria, etc, and to make weird mutant super enormous hybrid apples. All things undergo natural mutations in nature, sure, but it doesn't compare to the rate of modification done to apples (and other stuff) in a lab.

All's I know is, a number of years ago, I studied abroad in Central America where I ate apples and other delicious fruits that looked nothing like the stuff you buy in grocery stores in the United States. No glossy skin, no ginormous sizes, no 25 varieties. Just simple fruit that was small, dull looking, and very very flavorful.

And then the very next day after I came back to the United States, I ate an apple. And that was the last day I ate an apple without taking anti-histamines or something beforehand. My body just rejected it. It was like "now that you've fed me tasty nutritional fruit, we don't want this fake lab crap."

*removes tinfoil hat*

I really miss eating apples :-\
posted by raztaj at 6:36 PM on November 9, 2010

No glossy skin...small, dull looking

You may have been eating russet apples. I don't know that russets would fly under your allergies' radar while regular ones wouldn't, but yeah.

Russets used to be very popular cultivars in the USA (they're very sweet and flavorful and tend to be great for baking and cider), but now that everybody likes big shiny apples mainly for eating raw, you don't see them in stores. I don't know that they're any more or less nutritious than what you find in most supermarkets today, but they apparently taste a lot better.
posted by Sara C. at 6:53 PM on November 9, 2010

Response by poster: Deep down, I really just wanted someone to confirm that Fujis had changed.

I will try Cameos, Staymans, Pink Ladys, and Honeycrisps, and I am intrigued by Jazz apples (jazzapple!). Thanks everyone for chiming in!
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 7:00 PM on November 9, 2010

These days I have best success at the store by picking out the smallest, ugliest apples, whatever variety those may be. Sometimes it's Fujis, and sometimes the Fujis are oversized, watery, overpriced, flavorless monsters.
posted by ErikaB at 7:16 PM on November 9, 2010

N-thing Honeycrisps. They are usually more expensive than other apples, but SO worth it.

Also: you probably already know this, but do not buy apples in pre-sorted sacks. There's no quality control that way. Buy 'em individually. And pick up and feel at LEAST a dozen apples before you start putting any in the bag... you want the absolute heaviest specimens for their size that you can get.

Even awesome apple varieties have been affected by The Apple-Industrial Complex's push to grow fruit that is huge, glossy and hardy... but full of mealy, flavorless fluff. Heavy = juicy + dense = a greater shot at getting one of the GOOD apples in the barrel.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:45 PM on November 9, 2010

A suggestion: Eyes open for 'Pink Lady' or 'Cameo' apples. Prcier, but they have that kind sweet, juicy, a little tart thing going on that you seem to like.

Also, if you can go Apple picking in your area, DO IT! You'll discover an endless variety of delicious apples you can't get in a grocery store.
posted by GilloD at 8:14 PM on November 9, 2010

Genetically, the Fuji apples you had years ago are exactly the same as the Fuji apples of today. They are literally from the same tree, the only tree to ever produce Fuji apples. Twigs from that tree have been cut, and grafted onto root stock to create more trees, however, they are all the same tree.

That isn't to say that they couldn't taste different though. Considering all the changes in fertilization, ripening procedures, and storage practices, they may be more flavorless now, but it is genetically exactly the same apple from all those years ago.
posted by 517 at 8:43 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

It might be because the long-life storage techniques for apples have changed. In fact, there was a question asked in the random stuff column "Sideswipe" in the New Zealand Herald a few days ago, and an industry person chipped in:

"The NZ apple season runs from February to late April. Royal Gala is an early-season apple and one that tends to be stunning during the season but doesn't store particularly well (in my opinion). Royal Gala apples sold now are nearly 10 months old.

"Also, the technology for preserving apples has changed. Previously, the major technology used was Controlled Atmosphere, where the level of CO2 was increased. This maintained good flavour but ... the apples became floury as they got older. Smart Fresh is a new technology which preserves fruit and gives good texture throughout the life of the apple, but does result in a loss of flavour.

"My personal preference is for either Braeburn, NZ Rose or Pacific Rose apples when we get this far away from the growing season as they handle long-term storage well."

posted by slightlybewildered at 12:38 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I've found Fuji apples in the US look and taste very different from the Fuji apples we get in the UK (which are imported from China) and which are pink, crisp and very sweet.

Try your local Asian supermarket, they may have the Chinese ones, which are nommy.
posted by essexjan at 1:00 AM on November 10, 2010

There's a good chance that the Fuji your getting could be one of the "sport varieties," of which there are over a dozen for Fujis. According to this, sport varieties are naturally occurring mutations that are selected by the growers for favorable growing characteristics. I find groceries stores mostly to be failing in providing good labeling of fruit and vegetable cultivars. So it's possible that you're getting one of these mutants, and not the original cultivar that you'd come to love.
posted by slogger at 7:28 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, slightlybewildered has got it. Honeycrisps are supremely delicious and part of that deliciousness is attributable to the apple's delicate constitution. A Honeycrisp bruises easily. It stores okay, but it will not tolerate lots of handling. So the Honeycrisps available in the store today are this year's crop, brought to you near their peak of freshness and flavor.

Given the premium price Honeycrisps earn, and their popularity, it's only a matter of time before some enterprising apple grower figures out how to make the fruit more amenable to modern mass distribution. Maybe that knowledge adds a tinge of bitter to the Honeycrisp's tart-n-sweet; enjoy it before it's gone.
posted by notyou at 7:42 AM on November 10, 2010

Fuji apples are my favorite grocery store pick. In season/locally, however, I love honeycrisps, and also gingergolds. And winesaps! I haven't had a winesap since moving back to Massachusetts from New Jersey four years ago. Oh, for a winesap!
posted by Songdog at 12:54 PM on November 10, 2010

I agree about the Fujis not being a quarter as good as they used to be, and also nth Honeycrisps and Jazz apples (I pay three times as much for my jazzes...but they're such an awesome balance of sweet & tart!)
posted by smirkette at 9:33 PM on November 10, 2010

Just this week, I have had wonderful Fujis (locally grown in Connecticut), and insipid, disappointing ones (from Trader Joe's).

So I'd say it's a sourcing problem, not Fujis in general.
posted by Lizzle at 4:03 PM on November 11, 2010

« Older What kind of fuel should we get for a creme brulee...   |   [Insert dumb blonde joke here] Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.