Bill Howell, a plant pathologist from Prosser, created the Lucy Rose apple variety as a cross between the Honeycrisp and an Airlie Red variety. They are notable for their red centers.(Jennifer Bardsley)

Bill Howell, a plant pathologist from Prosser, created the Lucy Rose apple variety as a cross between the Honeycrisp and an Airlie Red variety. They are notable for their red centers.(Jennifer Bardsley)

Sweet treats for the holiday season direct from Washington growers

Washington State farmers survived a difficult year. The fruits of their labor deserve admiration.

My family loves apples. In fact, we adore them so much that we have an orchard in our front yard. At least, I call it an orchard, really it’s just six miniature-dwarf apple trees. That’s as close to apple farming as I can get in suburbia.

Our orchard looks beautiful in spring when it blooms its heart out. But sometime in late summer, our crop disappears. Apparently, squirrels love apples too. I’ll be sitting on the couch working on my computer and I’ll look out the window and see a gray squirrel scamper across the grass with a giant apple in its mouth. The nerve of those critters!

Since our apple crop usually fails, my family enjoys store-bought apples instead. Two years ago, we fell in love with Cosmic Crisp apples developed at Washington State University. Cosmic Crisps were bred the old-fashioned way. It took twenty years of naturally crossing Honeycrisps and Enterprise apples to invent this new variety. In addition to being absolutely delicious—the perfect blend of tart and sweet, Cosmic Crisps hold their color well, making them great for fruit salads. You can slice them up at night, pack them in lunchboxes and they’ll still be good the next day. Yes, they are slightly more expensive, but every parent knows the perils of kids tossing mushy, brown apples into the trash. Reducing food waste offsets the higher price.

This year my family has fallen for a new-to-us apple called Lucy Rose. It was created by a plant pathologist named Bill Howell from Prosser, WA. A cross between the Honeycrisp and an Airlie Red variety, Lucy Rose apples are notable because of their red centers. The first time you slice into one of these beauties—whoa! It really makes an impression. They taste delicious too. We like to eat them with slices of Cougar Gold cheese. There’s another variety called Lucy Glo that we haven’t tired yet. Lucy Rose is marketed as sweet with a hint of berry, and Lucy Glo is tart with a hint of sweet. Both apples have distinctive red centers.

I’ve posted pictures of Cosmic Crips and Lucy Rose apples on my social media feeds before because I’m weird; (I don’t work for apple farmers in case you were wondering), and people have been intrigued. Blue states might not always get along with red states, but most Americans agree that Washington State apples are better than ones flown in from New Zealand. When I think about what it means to be a Washingtonian, bragging about our state’s apple harvest is top of the list. So maybe I’m not so weird after all; I’m a proud Washingtonian who likes to eat.

As we enter a season of Christmas cookies, chocolate advent calendars and other tempting goodies, my goal is to keep our fruit bowl stocked. The next time you visit the grocery aisle, slow down your cart and take a second look. Our Washington State farmers have survived a difficult year of drought and the fruits of their labor deserve admiration.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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