A new super-sweet variety of apple, called the Cosmic Crisp, hit the shops in the US on 1 December. Apple growers from the state of Washington, in the north-western US, say that if you keep it in the fridge it will still be fine to eat a year later.
It’s taken more than 20 years for fruit breeders working at Washington State University to perfect this new kind of apple. The Pink Lady apple variety was also created here in the same breeding programme.
It all began in 1997, when breeders crossed the Honeycrisp and Enterprise varieties to create a tree that produced apples with naturally high levels of acidity (sharp-tasting chemicals) and sugar.
The sugar makes the Cosmic Crisp taste sweet, while the acidity stops the fruit from browning and creates a long-lasting crunchy texture.
Breeders called the variety Cosmic Crisp because they say the tiny bright flecks on the apple’s dark red skin reminded them of clusters of stars out in the cosmos (another word for the universe).
For the next 10 years, only growers in Washington state will be allowed to grow the new apple. They have spent three years planting their orchards and this year will produce about 50 million of the new apples.
Kate Evans, who heads up the programme, told The Guardian newspaper that it was “very exciting to finally see it available for consumers.”
By 2025, the growers aim to be selling two billion apples a year.
This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:
Debate whether creating a new breed of apple is playing with nature, or if this is a clever way to make healthy food more convenient and reduce food waste
Design and write an advertisement for this new breed of apple, using powerful or entertaining language choices
Imagine a conversation between items in a fridge when one of these apples is put in. Will they be impressed, jealous or sympathetic? How will the apple feel?
Research other examples of cross-breeding, whether it’s for plants or animals. What were the original breeds and which characteristics were the breeders hoping to combine?