British Columbia

The fruit of 22 years' labour: Highly anticipated Cosmic Crisp apple set for launch

The Cosmic Crisp apple was designed to be exactly what consumers are looking for, its Kelowna-based inventor says: firm, juicy, crisp and with just the right amount of sweetness and tartness. 

Kelowna-based inventor says variety was designed to be firm, juicy, crisp, sweet and tart

Cosmic Crisp apples are a cross between Honey Crisp and Enterprise apple varieties. (Submitted by Bruce Barritt)

A new type of apple that's been in the works for 22 years is set to be launched Dec. 1 — and its Kelowna, B.C.-based inventor believes it could become one of the most popular varieties ever. 

Former Washington State University horticulturalist Bruce Barritt worked tirelessly to take the idea for the perfect apple from theory to market. 

The Cosmic Crisp apple was designed to be exactly what consumers are looking for, Barritt said: firm, juicy, crisp and with just the right amount of sweetness and tartness. 

The appearance of the apple was also important, Barritt said, and what they ended up with was a dark burgundy fruit that doesn't turn brown too quickly once it's cut open, and can last in cold storage for more than 10 months. 

Bruce Barritt is proud to finally have his Cosmic Crisp apples going to market after 22 years of trying to create the perfect apple. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Creating a new variety of apple started with hybridizing seeds from the popular Honey Crisp, known for taste, and seeds from the Enterprise, known for disease resistance.

Barritt says the process was done through "plain genetics" — meaning natural pollination and selection — and that the apples are not genetically modified. 

Tens of thousands of trees were grown using the hybrid seeds. Barritt had to look at the fruit on each tree until he found one that had exactly the characteristics he was aiming for. 

The result is an apple that makes a sharp cracking sound when you bite into it, and is "delightfully juicy," said Barritt, now a WSU professor emeritus.

"You want to wipe your face off after you're finished. It's really, really good," he said. 

The final stages of selection and release for the Cosmic Crisp have been overseen by WSU professor Kate Evans, according to a release from the university.

Tens of thousands of apple trees were grown from hybridized seeds to create the Cosmic Crisp apple. (Submitted by Bruce Barritt)

Stores may run out

The bad news is the apple won't be widely available in Canada upon its December release due to border restrictions, Barritt said.

But Cosmic Crisp spokesperson Kathryn Grandy said Canadian packaging has been developed for the apples and she expects a small amount will make it north of the border during the launch. 

"There is a very limited amount of fruit this year," Grandy said. 

Even though 450,000 boxes of Cosmic Crisps are set to ship out across the U.S., he said that's a 'drop in the bucket' compared to the 135 million apples produced there each year.

He believes the apples will be so popular that stores will run out.

"There won't be enough for everybody, that's for sure," he said. 

Barritt expects most Canadian consumers will get to take a bite out of the Cosmic Crisp in the fall of 2020.

This is the first Cosmic Crisp apple tree, selected by fruit breeders at Washington State University in 2002 and 2003 based on the quality of the fruit. (Washington State University/Twitter)

With files from Daybreak South