Opal Apple Adventure; A Forbidden Fruit…Sort Of

Opal apple. Photo by R.Perkins
Opal apple. Photo by R.Perkins

Opal apples will reverse the aging process, make you impervious to disease, and alter your DNA in such a manner as to make you staggeringly attractive and irresistible to the opposite sex…or the same-sex. To the best of my knowledge Opal apples make no distinctions concerning sexual preference or orientation.

In reality, they actually do none of the above. However, at almost four dollars a pound, if an ordinary apple a day will shoo away a doctor, along those same lines an Opal should repel lawyers, politicians, Jehovah’s witness, and the IRS. I like apples. I don’t love them, but in the case of the Opal lets just call it curiosity. Normally, I would opt for the cheaper selections. Perhaps a Granny Smith (get your tart on!) or my personal favorite–Honeycrisp, but the sheer price difference of the opal piqued my interest enough to do some digging on the internet. And what I uncovered encouraged me to, well, bite.

And bite I did. I soon found myself standing in the apple section of Brookshire’s produce aisle,  closely scrutinizing each golden, slightly orange orb. I chose four. I later did the math and wished I hadn’t after concluding that each apple cost me approximately $2.50. I winced. These damn well better be good. 

I took my shoes off before taking a bite, and propped my feet up to better provide my no-show Puma brand socks an adequate launching pad because they were about to peel free, fly across the room and slam against the adjacent wall with such force that they would imprint the word AMUP into the paneling. That didn’t happen. So far, the only event to ever actually knock my socks off was a motorcycle accident back in 1989. On a lighter note, after biting into the opal apple I wasn’t flung from my recliner and into the highway, and I didn’t wake up in a hospital bed a day later with a headache, and a bruise that started in my butt emanating out in every direction displaying various degrees of color making me look like a tie-dyed version of the Brown Hornet, but feeling considerably less like a superhero and more like a squashed villain. What did happen, however, was a deeper respect, and a far better understanding of how a stable apple cultivar achieves perfection. The first three things I discovered about the opal were as follows:

  • It’s a cross between Golden Delicious and Topaz.
  • Since its introduction to the USA in 2010 it’s only grown in one place. (Broetje Orchards in Washington.)
  • It’s a Non-GMO verified product.

If the Non-GMO verified part wasn’t enough to interest me to dig deeper, or the fact that this particular cultivar was only grown in one of the United States, the fact that it’s against the law to plant one of the seeds from an Opal apple certainly cinched it for me. Now, I want a tree.

Whaaat? Against the law? Yep, thanks to the Plant Patent Act of 1930,  you can patent a seed. And why not? It takes lots of hard work and dedication to perfect a cultivar of any species and create a stable specimen. Anyone who has ever saved seeds from their garden to replant the following year in hopes of growing more of that same awesome variety of their favorite veggie only to discover they planted seeds from a hybrid can give a big amen to that. You can plant ten different seeds from a hybrid and get ten different results. I did this with peppers once, and I must confess, I liked it. (Don’t tell anyone).

Photo by R.Perkins
Photo by R.Perkins

Alas, in the case of apple trees, or other asexually propagated plants, planting a seed in hopes of growing a tree that would yield a desired variety is akin to purchasing a slip of paper with a set of random numbers printed on it in hopes of winning millions of dollars. AKA the lottery. However, the act of purchasing a lottery ticket won’t usually land you in jail, whereas the successful propagation of an Opal apple tree sprouted from a seed out of a store-bought apple certainly could. I still want one.

Why do I want one? Because someone is telling me I can’t have one, that’s why.  That being said, the Opal apple does have some outstanding, if not curious qualities. For example, after being sliced, the exposed flesh of this variety will not turn brown. I tested this somewhat by accident when I left a core resting in the cup holder of my SUV for a twenty-four hour period. No brown…at all. Weird, huh? I mean, who the hell leaves spent fruit lying around inside their vehicle all day long? This one particular characteristic of the Opal makes it a popular choice for parents who forgo the school provided lunch for a more nutritious, homemade version. It seems as though kiddos don’t care for brown apple slices. Hmpf, in my day we gave the apple to the teacher anyway.

Another outstanding facet of this horticultural jewel is community support. The funds procured from the sale of Opal apples are used to aid local community efforts, e.g. community gardens. And just in time too, because these beauties are only sold from late winter to early spring. When those robins start hopping, and the aromas from the compost piles begin to swell into our nostrils, that Opal money should start rolling in. Is it any wonder they’re called Opals?

As I mentioned earlier, Opals are currently grown only in one place here in the USA. This is because they have only been recently introduced to this continent. They originated in Europe, in the Czech Republic, therefore, I’m certain the costs of establishing an orchard here was substantial. Understandably, it will be a while before saplings, or even rootstock will become available to the general public. Hmmm, guess I’ll wait for that time to come. But if a seed should fall from an apple I am eating, in the garden, over fertile, well-drained sandy loam…welll.

Ok Opal apple owners, don’t freak-out and send the apple police my way. I realize that an apple sprouted from seed will most likely yield crab apple–a spindly, ground hugging vine-like production of an apple tree. I am also aware that apple trees, propagated through the process of grafting if the fruit produced is to remain true to the parent plant, aren’t really worthwhile to grow from seed. I still want one though.

I must say, exploring the heritage of the Opal apple has been an enlightening, if not tasty adventure. Any time I spot a new example of mother nature’s handiwork resting in the fruit bin, my interest stirs, my tummy growls, and I soon get my google on. The Opal apple is just the latest to tickle my brain buds.

Well, by now I guess you want to know what it tasted like. Well, let me tell you, it was…aww heck, just go buy one and try it yourself. Delight your taste buds. Besides, when was the last time you helped your community?


  1. I planted an opal apple seed and it came up. I didn’t know it was illegal . It is about 6 inches tall.
    Do I have to cut it down? It survived the Texas freeze which was 14 degrees here.


    1. Why, you’re such a rebel, Barbara. Way to go! I wouldn’t worry. It’ll probably end up as a spindly something or another that vaguely resembles an apple tree anyhow. Besides, I’m yet to hear of an Apple police force. Good luck, and thanks for the comment!


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