Envy apples have quickly risen to the top in terms of popular, exciting apples available today. They are a cross between two other beloved varieties – the Royal Gala and the Braeburn.
Where Do Envy Apples Come From?
Apples are among the most highly consumed fruit world-wide, so it’s not surprising that there are institutions specifically focused on developing new varieties. HortResearch, located in New Zealand, developed the Envy apple in 2009. Distribution of this new variety began that same year. HortResearch uses natural plant breeding methods to produce a fruit with desirable traits. When it comes to apples, they focus on appearance, taste, and longevity. The industry projected a production of 2 million cartons of Envy apples by 2020.
Currently New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and the United States state of Washington are the only places where this variety is grown. Field tests are being conducted in the UK and France to expand production. Italy is also being field tested for organic cultivation.
What Do Envy Apples Look and Taste Like?
Like their parent apples, the Braeburn and Royal Gala, Envy apples are mostly red in color with few yellow patches or specks. The pale yellow flesh takes up to 10 hours to oxidize (or begin to brown). This trait is highly desirable for those who love to eat apples freshly cut. The Envy has thicker, tougher skin than other apples.
This skin has lenticels, which are like pores that allow the skin to breathe. As a general rule with apples the more lenticels, the sweeter the fruit. Envy apples are known to be very sweet and low in acidity. Many people prefer to eat them fresh. When ripe, the flesh is crisp and has a slight flowery taste as well.
Where to Get Envy Apples
Due to the climate in their main areas of production, Envy apples are cultivated year round and therefore available in any season as long as shipping is possible. The Envy as well as other newer varieties can be found side by side with the more common, old-school types, such as McIntosh, Red Delicious, and Cortland. These newer varieties allow for apples to be grown and harvested year-round, taking them out of the ‘seasonal’ fruit category.
Similar Types of Apples
- Gala Apple – The Gala apple became the apple with the highest production in 2018, taking the place of the Red Delicious. They are similar in color to the Envy although they usually have striping as well. Galas have a fine texture to the meat of the fruit and are very aromatic. This apple also originated in New Zealand.
- Braeburn Apple – Another New Zealand cultivar, the Braeburn is a firm apple with a yellow-green background and orange-red foreground. Unlike the Gala and Envy, the Braeburn has a hint of tart flavor to it. They are often used in cooking as they hold their shape well.
- Rave Apple – Though harder to find on the market, Rave apples appeal to many different people. They’re sweet, juicy, and come into harvest earlier, meaning that they’re available sooner in hemispheres where apples are seasonal.
- Honeycrisp Apple – The Honeycrisp is another apple that might seem new, but was actually created in 1960. In the last decade they’ve exploded onto the market and can be found alongside seasonal favorites. It’s an additional apple that’s great for eating fresh, as it has a great balance of sweet, tart, and crisp flavor.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Apples
Luckily, in the last decade organic options have become more available both in commercial grocery stores and in local farmers market. For a fruit, vegetable, or any other food to be deemed organic, they need to meet the standards of organic farming. The use of pesticides and fertilizers is restricted and the effect of growing produce on the local ecosystem is taken into account.
But as far as taste and health, is there an actual difference between organic and non-organic apples?
The short answer is yes. If you’re unfamiliar with organic fruit and veggies, the first thing you’ll notice is that non-organic options tend to be larger and more uniform in size, shape, and color. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. When it comes to non-organic fruit, it seems that appearance takes the place of quality.
Organic apples are usually smaller but brighter in color and more fragrant. They also taste noticeably better. Taking a bite out of a non-organic apple, followed by its organic counterpart, will show just how bland non-organic apples are in terms of flavor.
Fresh apples in general have more fiber and natural vitamins, which makes them a great snack. Organic apples are also healthier in many ways. They have more “good” bacteria in them that help regulate gut health. Studies show that conventional apples can often harbor potential food-borne pathogens. The use of strong pesticides has led to non-organic apples being listed as highly contaminated by the Environmental Working Group.
The effect on orchard workers should also be taken into consideration. When treating with pesticides, tractors drive through orchards and spray directly onto the trees, which also exposes farm workers to these harmful chemicals. Organic apples aren’t just better for you, they’re better for the environment and the employees of companies producing this fruit.
How to Use Envy Apples
It’s generally agreed that Envy apples are best eaten fresh. They have a crisp, fine texture and a sweet taste that makes them a great option for additions to salads, pairings with cheese, or fruity oatmeal bowls.
If you’re looking for other uses for the Envy apple, they’re really endless. This fruit does well in meat dishes, desserts, and any kind of baking due to its ability to hold shape and flavor after cooking. Keep in mind that the skin of this variety is particularly tough, so it won’t break down as easily even when baking. Just another reason to eat them fresh – the skin provides more nutrients!
The Envy also happens to be a great option for drying. Dried apples are easy to make, a great, quick snack, and an important source of nutrients and fiber. Drying can be easily done with the help of a dehydrator.
Here’s a list of both familiar and innovative recipes for the Envy apple:
- Apple and Ricotta Phyllo Tart
- Apple Muffins
- Apple Butter
- One Pan Pork & Apples
- Homemade Applesauce
- Apple Dumplings
- Pork Tacos with Apple Salsa
- Apple Crumble
- Red Appletini
How to Grow Envy Apples
Unfortunately the Envy apple isn’t yet available for home gardens or personal orchards. Planting is still in testing in many areas, including the UK, France, and Italy. This variety made it to Washington State in 2010.
But for anyone interested in what growing Envy apples is like, and possibly in growing them when they do become available, here’s the lowdown: when mature, these trees blossom early. They can be pollinated by Granny Smith, Cripps Pink, Idared, or Malus varieties.
The trees provide an average yield and are susceptible to scab and mildew. Leaves can also suffer from a lack of magnesium.
Are Envy Apples Genetically Modified?
In recent years there’s been some controversy over whether or not genetically modified (GMO) food is harmful or not. Foods that are considered GMO have had changes made to their original DNA for various reasons – larger yields, more uniform production, resistance to disease and pests. Whatever the reason, genetically modified food has faced scrutiny as far as whether or not it’s actually safe.
The current consensus from the scientific community is that GMO foods don’t have any higher risk than non-GMO foods. But regulation varies by country, and that concerns many people. Until there’s more testing done many people are sticking with non-GMO foods.
Where does this place Envy apples? They are considered non-genetically engineered, as they have no genetic modification. They are simply the product of natural breeding methods, crossing the Royal Gala and Braeburn. Breeders who specialize in this area look for desirable traits, choose cultivars, and use grafting and budding to propagate new varieties. They also control pollination to have greater influence over who the “parents” of the fruit are.
Envys are grown using the Integrated Fruit Production Method, which takes environmental concerns into account during production. The IFP group doesn’t use insecticides or fungicides unless justified use can be proven. When the chemicals are deemed necessary, they’re highly controlled and monitored to ensure less harm is done to the environment and workers. New Zealand has grown apples using this method since 1996.
Envy Apple Fun Facts:
One Envy apple has about 47 calories, 2g fiber, and 12g sugar.
In 2020, 1.9 million tray carton equivalents of the Envy were sold, making the Envy apple a billion dollar brand.
The flesh of the Envy apple stays white for long periods of time (after being cut) due to the high vitamin C content.
They are in season in New Zealand year-round, but have a season of October – May in the United States.
The Envy apple has its own Instagram page