I saw these apples in the grocery store and decided to try them. The Envy apple is a large, angular apple and had a beautify striped and marbled appearance with yellows, golds and reds. The Sugar Bee was a smaller round apple with red-orange flesh and green lenticels. Mild aroma, probably due to being in storage for a while.
I cut off a slice from each apple and tasted both at room temperature. To me, both were cloyingly sweet with pleasant yellow apple and pear flavors. Each apple had distinct flavors, but nothing terribly memorable (I am writing this review 2 days after). Both are highly crunchy and juicy as you chew the flesh.
I refrigerated them both overnight and tried again in the morning. When cold, the sweetness levels were good, but I was still wanting a little bit more of a tart kick. I’d eat them again if that’s what was available, but I would most definitely pick something else over either of these apples.
Both apples seem to have pretty expensive marketing campaigns behind them. The folks behind Envy really it hard with lines like this:
“Whatever you are doing right now, Evny apple makes the experience so much more memorable for you and the ones you love.”
I have had both. I had an envy that was perfect for me. I really enjoy the density of flesh envy has like Braeburn.
The one I had had a good amount of zing. But I remember picking them up again and missing the tart in that batch.
My wife enjoyed Sugar Bee more but I agree too sweet “one note” of an apple for me.
On the contrary my mother enjoys mushy apples the most. The apple that you leave on the counter for a few weeks and the skin starts the wrinkle just before going bad is her ideal apple.
In short there are plenty of unique apples that can make everyone happy without Envy or Sugar Bee. You just got to get out there and taste them all!
Club apples don’t have much to do with fruit growing for members of this forum, unless you take the very long view and just want to be ready when the patent runs out. One of my clients flipped for Envy and saved me one. It was a fine apple but not that distinctive to my palate- anyway, I’m highly biased towards fruit from my own trees. Can’t rate apples from the west reliably if you are trying to figure out how they will do in NYS, but that didn’t matter- I had to tell my client that it is a club apple an not available to me or him as a tree.
I think discussing the relative merits of apples only available commercially is worthwhile, and home growers have a unique perspective, from which to discuss them. I don’t see it as much of a leap from the core topic of growing fruit. An analogous situation could be if this were a home cooking forum, discussing that in relation to food available from restaurants.
Regarding Envy, April is just about the worst time for judging an apple, unless you are judging its storability, or this is a Summer apple in the Southern Hemisphere.
I appreciate Envy because it has an outstanding texture, and consistently high brix with mild flavor. It is inoffensive and rarely bad. It also keeps extremely well, but I think does tend towards insipid as it ages (like now). The fact that its texture and appearance hold up so well, may raise expectations that flavor will follow suit - setting up for disappointment on these long-stored apples.
On a scale of 1-10, I’ve had Envies that were 8, maybe close to 9. But seldom below 7. Whereas an apple like Honeycrisp, I’ve had full on 10s early on, but haven’t tasted one above 6 or 7 in the last decade.
If you’ve ever had a Fuji or Red Delicious that you liked, I bet you’d like Envy in January.
Some of the apples best apples I’ve had were fresh off the tree. I don’t even know if the particular trees were named varieties or not. The taste and aroma of a really fresh apple can’t be beat. There is quite a bit of variation in grocery store apples. They’re hit and miss for me.
One of the most memorable apples I’ve eaten recently was a Gala apple last fall. I gave one to a buddy for a snack. He said it was one of the best apples he’d ever eaten. I am not sure I would go that far, but it was extremely aromatic and the texture was good. I was surprised because they’re not my favorite apples, but I do get them now and then to keep things interesting.
I also had a Snapdragon that same fall, which was memorable but in a bad way. Devoid of any flavor but crunchy and juicy. One of the most tasteless apples I’ve ever eaten. I am sure I’ve had other tasteless ones, even varieties I typically like. When I try a new apple I am definitely paying closer attention. I am probably expecting a little more when I am paying $2-$3 a pound for compared to $.60-$1.00 a pound for a bag of McIntoches.
I’ve never had a Gala that I liked, even enough to want to finish eating. I’m mystified by its popularity and wonder if I just don’t have access to good ones. I’m still looking forward to trying one that changes my impression.
Well, gala not great but better than wooden red delicious from a grocery. Can’t grow a decent apple here near Houston. Low chill Anna and ein shiemer make a pretty green apple that tastes worse than grocery store bought. Hah, but you New Yorkers can’t grow a decent navel orange or grapefruit either like we can!
Eating a Sugar Bee right now. Superb, crisp texture that cleaves nicely. The taste reminds me of Red Delicious but there was a lingering second note I struggled with until it hit me: pool water. Not unpleasant but nothing special.
I live not far from one of the three apple belts of Australia, and during new variety trial periods (before the supermarkets finally buy in) a lot of great unique, fresh picked apples end up in a locally owned produce store near by, and a few years ago they started stocking fresh picked Envy’s in mid to late June, they’re usually ~800grams, so pretty big, and due to the climate they have a lot of noticeable russeting (hotter zones give them more resetting, but when grown in colder zones they’re almost russet free), a strongly floral flavour, and as some have mentioned above, are cloyingly sweet!
In my household they rank about 3rd for all apples we’ve tried, just behind Ambrosia in 2nd (also in market trials, so fresh picked aren’t too hard to get), and Kalei in 1st.
Something I’ve noticed: Russeted Envys have more complex flavours by far, with pineapple, cinnamon, and hints of cloves, versus the “floral and sweet” that the store bought non-russeted ones taste like.
Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that Envy are kind of amazing at resisting browning cut/sliced. I’ve had sliced go over an hour before any noticeable changes occurred!
I recently visited one of the major orchards (ostensibly on a pick your own tour), and had a chance to meet and talk shop with the former head of the Queensland Government’s Agricultural breeding programme, we spoke heavily about Kalei (as he was directly involved with its breeding programme), but also of the development and Australian test sites for Envy. |
He’s who shared that Envy russet with hot weather, and lamented that due to supermarkets perceiving a lower consumer appeal from the russeting that they were considering abandoning the variety.
W/o realizing to search, I wrote a description of the bag of Envy I literally plowed thru. Aldi’s has them right now here in IL/IA.
it’s super dense, first off. not much core to it. smaller apple; extremely flavorful; never a hint anywhere of any offness; very juicy; flavor is a light puckery, ; followed with a mellow apple sauce flavor or light flavor of juiced apple cider; continuing to chew bites allow the flavor of a very good apple pie to be tasted as the juices are being blended with the crisp, flesh, occurring during several ‘return bites’ to the apple. (Barkslip)
They’re in the 2.5 inch height range and 2.75 inch width range. At least these are, above.
I unfortunately don’t have apple trees producing yet. I rate Envy as one of the very best apples from a grocery store. I eat primarily Fuji. Fuji is usually the best apple at Aldi’s. Currently their selling big sports of Fuji that taste like bland, sugar water.
For at least the past two years, Safeway has been carrying a “Sugar Bee” blend of apple cider, 100% juice not from concentrate. Ryan’s also has a Sugar Bee juice blend. No way to tell from the label the percent of Sugar Bee and the other varietal juices. I find this particular blend very flavorful and not overly sweet.