This large and ribbed variety has deep red streaks inside a crimson blush that nearly covers a yellow base. In places the blush is spread thinly enough over the yellow that the result is more orange than red.

Tiny light lenticels are not very prominent but provide some contrast, and the calyx (which is closed) is rimmed with a base of 5 prominent "chins." Smitten is generally round, but most are a bit elongated. In some ways the shape suggests that of a hefty Red Delicious.

The fruit is firm in hand and smells sweetly and mildly of cider with a little spice.

The crisp flesh is hard enough that biting in takes a little effort. Inside, Smitten is more fine-grained than otherwise and a light buttery yellow. The firm flesh breaks into great crunchy chunks, and the flavors are well balanced.

Smitten is another product of New Zealand's very productive apple-breeding program. As a modern managed brand ("Smitten" is a trademark), this apple shows us the marketer's art as well as the breeder's.

There are of course web and Facebook pages for this apple, and the de rigueur Twitter account. There's a motto for goodness sakes, and even the tiny fruit sticker is cleverly crafted. (Perhaps too cleverly—it did not naturally occur to me that the stylized marks in place of "tt" in "Smitten" are kisses.)

Compare that with the dull generic stickers for varieties that have passed into the public domain. (Why no carefully crafted sticker for Macoun? Because there is no consortium of exclusive growers who would profit from spending money to design and produce one.)

Smitten's parents are not commercialized or named varieties, but the grandparents are. The family tree as far as I can make it out is (Falstaff x Fiesta) x (Braeburn x Gala). These are great bloodlines, though I was guessing some Akane or similar based on flavor.

Smitten is an early-harvest variety (picked in February, our August). I'd say it does pretty well in storage.


Read the full article at: