If you’ve ever had an apple tree, you’ll know the delight of picking fresh apples from the boughs come fruiting season. If taken good care of, an apple tree will yield crisp, fresh fruit and produce relatively reliable harvests, although there is debate as to their vitality.
In terms of apples, there’s none quite as sweet as the Snapdragon- quickly becoming a personal favorite of apple lovers everywhere.
What’s so Special about Snapdragons?
Snapdragon apples are a newcomer on the commercial scene. Researchers at Cornell only recently introduced the fruits in 2013, and they have been a hit with taste-testers ever since.
A Snapdragon apple is armed with the juiciness of a Cortland and the taste of a Honeycrisp (since Honeycrisps are among its parent breeds). However, it packs a punch that can’t be found in other apples.
The ‘dragon’ part of its name comes from its unique spiciness, a hit with taste-testers when it was first created. Snapdragons were fast-tracked for commercialization soon after they were bred.
The ‘snap’ comes from its unique crispness. Biting into a snapdragon apple is almost like biting into a fuji in that its flesh provides just enough resistance to produce a satisfying crunch. It makes for a feisty addition to most any kitchen.
The Snapdragon also has an exceptionally lengthy shelf-life, meaning that lovers of the sweet, crisp apple can keep them around longer without throwing them out.
Snapdragons are also unique in the fact that you can’t (without paying a special licensing fee) grow them or buy seeds or saplings. Aside from harvesting seeds from the apples themselves, you’ll have a hard time finding growing materials.
Like Mirabelle plums, Snapdragons are one of those fruits with a mysterious and elusive web of legal conditions behind them.
Where do Snapdragons Grow?
Currently, Snapdragons are mainly grown in New York as it is their native state. Their highest availability runs from late September to early January, just after harvesting. They are available for so long because of their long shelf life.
Snapdragons, for the moment, are only grown in New York state. This is because the creators wanted to preserve a long-standing relationship between packers and growers.
Although you might not have Snapdragons in your local store, they can be purchased online and usually cost around $2.99/lb.
Snapdragons: A Hard Tree to Master
Many commercial producers complain that it is difficult to hit their production targets with Snapdragons. According to goodfruit.com, growers report that Snapdragons are an even weaker tree than the Honeycrisp.
According to Goodfruit.com, when a team of growers visited Windmill Farms in New York, the snapdragons there were a full year younger thank they should have been.
Dr. Terence Robinson challenged this criticism by pointing out the growing operation’s conservative approach. According to him, they were simply not planning on harvesting enough bushels for the amount of space they were working with.
Who Developed Snapdragon Apples?
Snapdragon apples were developed by Cornell University in partnership with NYAG (New York Apple Growers). They officially came onto the commercial scene in 2013, and were fast-tracked for commercial production soon after. They are anticipated to be among kids for snacking.
The inspiration for the snapdragon apple came from one of the most popular apple varieties of recent years, the Honeycrisp. By cross-polinating between Honeycrisp and other apples, breeders were able to keep the Honeycrisp’s sweetness and crispness while adding a special zest in its spiciness.
Currently, Snapdragon apples are under a patent agreement, meaning that to grow them you have to sign up under the Midwest Apple Improvement Association and pay dues. Other apples under such patents are Ambrosias, Autumn Glories, and Cosmic Crisps.
This apple variety took over a decade to create, and were primarily developed by Susan Brown, a breeder out of Cornell University. Brown was recently awarded for her incredible contributions to horticulture.
What to do with Snapdragon Apples
Snapdragon apples are an incredibly versatile fruit, and its all thanks to their surprising taste and texture. The spiciness pairs well with cinnamon, and the crisp texture goes well in many treats.
Snapdragon apples have a distinctly spicy kick to them, so baking them into pastries and sweets is a must.
An apple tart is a great way to incorporate apples into your baking routine. Tarts bring out the zestiness of apples, and bakers often find that a well-cooked apple tart is much sweeter and more delectable than other baked goods.
You could also bring out the apples flavor by baking it into a strudel. Strudels will work with a snapdragons spiciness and, combined with a bit of cinnamon, create a scrumptious little bite you won’t soon forget.
And you can’t forget apple pies. Apple pies are a favorite treat among Americans, and have become a cultural icon. Snapdragons’ spice and crispness introduce interesting texture and flavor to an apple pie, and can shake things up when you’re bored with your grandma’s old recipe.
For a less conventional use, try blending them into apple pie smoothies. Simply take one or two Snapdragon apples, cut off the skin, slice it into wedges, and put the wedges in a blender. After that, add yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, ice for that characteristic chill, a little bit of coffee creamer, and milk to your preference more for a smoother smoothie, less for thicker. Now, blend.
Apple pie smoothies are a great way to shake things up on a hot summer day, and the added zest supplied by a Snapdragon is sure to impress whoever you serve them to.
Caramel or Candied Apples
And don’t get us started on Snapdragons as caramel apples. The rich, dark flavor of caramel paired with the fiery taste and texture of the Snapdragon is a combination made in heaven. Simply substitute snapdragons for whatever apple you’re currently using in your caramel apple recipe, and voila.
Snapdragons as a Lunchtime Snack
Remember Snapdragon Apples’ long shelf lives? Well, its this durability that makes the Snapdragon the perfect apple for a school lunchbox. Slicing up a snapdragon apple and putting it in your child’s lunchbox will give him or her a healthy yet sweet snack to enjoy at school.
You might also want to try a more adventurous option, and have warm snapdragon cider. Cider is supposed to have a little kick to it, and Snapdragons are the perfect fruit to bring that unique flavor to the fore.
To make apple cider, simply boil apples, oranges, and spices of your choice, bring them down to a simmer and cover your pot for two hours. Next, remove your oranges and mash the apples with a potato masher. Return the mixture to a simmer and let sit uncovered for another hour. Finally, strain the mixture with a mesh strainer, and voila- warm apple cider.
Warm apple cider is spectacular for a fall or winter day- the perfect drink for a cold Christmas eve. Some families choose to bottle up their cider and put it in the refrigerator, enjoying it as a cold and tasty drink- like iced tea for northerners.
The snapdragon apple is a great addition to a salad because it adds the robustness and zing of a radish while supplying the sweetness of a dried cranberry.
Snapdragon apples go splndidly in a cabbage salad, and should be paired with walnuts for a sweet, savory flavor experience. Cabbage salads are especially crunchy, and great for satisfying mid-day cravings.
Fruit salad is another, more obvious, culinary choice when dealing with snapdragon apples. The kick of a snapdragon apple will be a startling revelation for cookout-goers used to the bland, boring fruit salads of their grandmothers’ days.
Finally, we can’t talk about a fruit-based salad without at least mentioning the summer salad. Summer salads, with feta, strawberries, and the works, are a great meal for a sunny day, or a dreary one. The Snapdragon never fails to brighten up a meal.
We all know the delightful spiciness of a good apple sauce. Favorited by young ones and their parents everywhere, apple sauce can be an excellent source of energy before a run, or an hour of recess.
For maximum effect, try mixing some nutmeg into your apple sauce. The nutty flavor of nutmeg pairs splendidly with the honey-sweetness of the Snapdragon. This combination will be an irresistible treat, and might even lead you to forsake the puddings and sugary yogurts of the grocery store.
Homemade apple sauce is a great way to furnish yourself with a hearty snack. Enjoy apple sauce before an exercise for an extra boost. Just like with your chocolate milk, just a pinch of salt can create explosive flavor, and bring you back to your apple sauce as though it were a completely new snack.
Snapdragon Apples, Summed Up
Overall, the thing you should take home about snapdragons is that they are an exciting new variety of apple with incredible texture and taste. They can be baked into baked goods, made into cider, or mashed into apple sauce. They are a delicious addition to a fruit-lover’s kitchen.
Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, picking, cooking, and more!
Wednesday 1st of December 2021
Why do snapdragon apples wrinkles up so badly on the outside.
Saturday 29th of January 2022
Hi Terry - I'm unaware of any reason the Snapdragon in particular is susceptible to wrinkling. If an apple is wrinkled, it usually means it's been stored for too long and has lost some moisture in the process. A lot of the apples sold in stores have been stored for many months. Usually successfully, but not always!