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Rave® apples are a small to medium-sized varietal, averaging 6 to 8 centimeters in diameter, and have a conical to round, sometimes lopsided shape. The apple’s skin has a yellow-green base coloring and is often covered in a bright red-orange blush with prominent streaking. The surface also has a smooth, semi-glossy consistency and is speckled with light lenticels. Underneath the skin, the yellow to ivory flesh is firm, aqueous, and delicate with a crisp and crunchy texture. The flesh also encases a small central core filled with tiny black-brown seeds. Rave® apples have a light, sweet, and tart flavor with tangy, aromatic undertones.
Rave® apples are available in the late summer through early fall.
Rave® apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are an early-season variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The sweet and tangy apples were developed in the late 20th century at the University of Minnesota as a part of an initiative to produce a late summer commercial cultivar with improved flavor and texture. Rave® apples were naturally created from a cross between Honeycrisp and MonArk apples. The variety acquired MonArk’s early ripening nature and Honeycrisp’s sweet-tart, crisp flesh and is only available for a short season in the late summer. Rave® apples are also known as cultivar MN55, and the variety is the first apple from the University of Minnesota’s Apple Breeding Program to be commercially marketed under two licensed brand names, First Kiss® and Rave® apples. First Kiss® is used to identify MN55 apples cultivated in Minnesota, while Rave® apple is a descriptor for the variety grown outside of the state. This distinction allowed Minnesota consumers to support local growers and was designed to promote apples bred for the Minnesota climate. In the modern-day, Rave® apples are one of the earliest commercial apples to arrive in consumer markets, and the variety is heavily promoted as a sweet and tangy apple, bearing the slogan “outrageously juicy with a refreshing, snappy zing.”
Rave® apples are a source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract, potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, calcium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth, and contain other minerals, including zinc, copper, magnesium, and iron. The apples also provide vitamins such as vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, vitamin E to protect the cells against free radical damage, and vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing.
Rave® apples have a sweet-tart flavor and crisp flesh designed to be consumed in fresh preparations. The apples are primarily eaten straight, out of hand, and are popularly served chilled to enhance their juicy nature. Rave® apples can also be chopped into salads, slaws, and fruit bowls, sliced and layered with toppings as a bruschetta, skewered onto fruit kabobs, or diced into a fruit salsa. The apple’s tangy undertones contribute a depth of flavor to charcuterie plates, or they can be layered into paninis and used as a fresh topping over breakfast dishes. Beyond fresh preparations, Rave® apples are not incorporated into cooked dishes as their flesh cannot withstand extended periods of heat. The apples are combined into shortcakes as a garnish, pureed into apple sauces, or mixed into raw apple crumbles. Rave apples pair well with cheeses such as blue, goat, gruyere, havarti, and brie, spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and ginger, nuts such as pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds, dried fruits including dates, cherries, raisins, vanilla, caramel, and sweet potatoes. Whole, unwashed Rave apples will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. In professional cold storage, the apples will keep up to five months.
Rave® apples were a part of a nationwide marketing campaign known as the Golden Rave in the fall of 2021 to increase awareness and evoke nostalgic childhood emotions. Stemilt Growers spearheaded the campaign, a farm-based in Wenatchee, Washington, and the promotion was themed around Willy Wonka and his golden tickets. Throughout the month of August and September of 2021, Rave® apples were promoted through the Golden Rave digital campaign, where participants could electronically scratch a golden ticket for a chance to win free prizes. The instant win scratch-off offered cash prizes, select consumer goods, or an opportunity to donate gifts to charity. Branding experts hoped the Willy Wonka theme would appeal to millennial consumers and simultaneously immerse consumers in the Rave® apple brand. Millennials are reported to reminisce and feel nostalgic ties more than other age groups, and the campaign sought to generate awareness for future apple seasons, giving apple enthusiasts something to “rave about.”
Rave® apples were developed through the University of Minnesota’s Apple Breeding Program in 1997 under the cultivar name MN55. Famous apple breeder David Bedford created the variety in partnership with James Luby, and the apples are descendants of a natural cross between Honeycrisp apples and MonArk apples, or AA44, an apple variety from Arkansas. Bedford was also known for developing Honeycrisp and SweeTango apples. It took over 20 years for Rave® apples to be released, and the variety underwent extensive trials, testing, and evaluation. In 2014, the University of Minnesota gave Stemilt Growers in Washington State the right to grow Rave® apples, and the first batch of the fruits was released commercially in 2017. The University of Minnesota also allowed several local growers to cultivate the variety, who released the apples in 2018. Apples produced in Minnesota are known as First Kiss® apples, while apples grown outside of the state are known as Rave® apples. The MN55 cultivar is the first variety from the university to have two trademarked names, and the cultivar will not be available for home garden production until the expiration of the plant patent in 2034. Today Rave® apples are grown throughout Minnesota and are also licensed to select orchards in Washington, Michigan, and New York. When in season, the apples are sold through grocers, farm stands, and distributors nationwide.
Recipes that include Rave® Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Unsophisticook||Apple, Ham, & Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwiches|
|Chew Out Loud||Apple Brie Prosciutto Crostini|
|Cupcakes & Kale Chips||Caramelized Apple Pecan Baked Brie|