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Sonya apples are elongated, conical fruits, and have broad shoulders that taper to a narrow bottom. The skin is firm, lightly ribbed, smooth, and has a yellow-green base, covered in patches of bright red blush and a few tan lenticels. Underneath the thin skin, the flesh is dense, very crisp, coarse, and ivory to white, encasing a central cavity filled with small, black-brown seeds. Sonya apples are crunchy with an intensely sweet flavor. The taste of the flesh is said to contain strong floral notes, lacks acidity, and is reminiscent of the flavor of sugar cane.
Sonya apples are available year-round.
Sonya apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are a late-season variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The modern cultivar was bred in New Zealand in the late 20th century with the intent to create an apple that was as sweet as a gala and as crisp as a red delicious. Sonya apples are also known in local markets under the variety name Nevson, and the name Sonya was given in honor of the breeder’s daughter. Sonya apples are favored by growers for its extended storage life, sweet flavor, and crisp texture, and the variety has been well-developed for the export market.
Sonya apples are a good source of potassium, which can help regulate fluid levels in the body and contain vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can help boost the immune system. The fruits also provide fiber, which can help stimulate the digestive tract and some smaller amounts of calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
Sonya apples are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as baking and boiling. The sweet, crisp flesh of the fruits is popularly consumed fresh, out-of-hand, or it is sliced and tossed into green and fruit salads, pressed into juices and ciders, or dipped whole into caramel as a dessert. The apples can also be baked into pies, bars, tarts, muffins, and bread, boiled and pureed into sauces, or cooked with spices as a savory-sweet side dish. Sonya apples pair well with strong cheeses such as manchego, camembert, and blue, nuts such as pecans, walnuts, and almonds, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise. The fresh apples will keep for 1-3 months when stored whole and unwashed in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
In the United States, Sonya apples are grown in the Yakima Valley in Washington, which is a region known for its similar growing conditions to the variety’s home climate in New Zealand. The Yakima Valley is considered to be one of the top producing valleys in the nation with over one thousand different varieties of produce such as cherries, apples, pears, and hops. The valley also contains a unique topsoil layer of volcanic material that was formed from the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1983. This topsoil creates a nutrient-dense environment that can retain more water, allowing apple trees to stay hydrated in the high-desert climate, which is also reported to have over three-hundred days of sunshine. Apples harvested in the Yakima Valley are all hand-picked, and there are over 55,000 acres of apple orchards encompassing many varieties including red delicious, gala, golden delicious, fuji, and Sonya.
Sonya apples were created in New Zealand by the Nevis Fruit Company and were developed from controlled breeding between red delicious and gala apples. The variety was developed in the late 1970s in the "upperlands" of Southern New Zealand, and bud wood from the new apple tree was grafted onto test trees in the same orchard in 1986. After many years of research, Sonya apples were released to commercial markets in 2002 and became a favored variety for their sweet, crisp flavor. Today Sonya apples are found in Central Otago, New Zealand, and are also grown in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and in the Yakima Valley, Washington, in the United States. Beyond cultivation, New Zealand grown Sonya apples are exported to select companies in Europe, the United States, and Asia, specifically Japan and China.
Recipes that include Sonya Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Produce Mom||Rotisserie Chicken Salad with Sonya Apples|
|The Produce Mom||Skinny Sonya Apple Turnovers|