SweeTango Apples – Interview with Rod Farrow of Lamont Fruit Farm – Waterport, NY

Q – What is the advantage to growing SweeTango over other varieties?
Rod:  A managed variety like SweeTango means only select grower partners are producing the best fruit to the highest standards, ensuring a great experience for the consumer every time. That consistent quality and managed supply allows us to maintain a price that keeps the variety profitable for us as growers. It provides a great foundation for the future of our business since out of control price fluctuations have dramatic impacts on our income from one year to the next.

Q – Is it worth the investment to switch over to growing this variety?  Was it a large investment?
Rod:   All new apple plantings are a significant investment. The costs for developing all new orchards, whatever the variety, are significant and very similar but are an essential investment in our future. With SweeTango, it is absolutely worth investing in such a high-quality, well-managed variety.  It was certainly an easy decision for all of us in NBT to invest in such a great apple!!

Q – What was your biggest surprise in growing the SweeTango apple – good and bad?
Rod:  As with all new varieties, there is a learning curve that’s going to trip you up along the way. We were really pleased at how friendly the tree is to grow — it just naturally forms a well-branched fruitful tree that gives us large apples pretty much by itself. We have had some problems with skin blemishes, especially on the really young trees but experience is teaching us how to overcome that. The good news it it doesn’t have any effect on the eating quality.

Q – How do you feel about the product being controlled and not available to be grown by others?  How does this impact competition and pricing?
Rod:  Being one of the members of the grower cooperative allows us to set specific, enforceable grade standards that ensure we deliver great fruit to the consumer every time.  This is obviously important in driving the repeat sales that keep us in business. Having the ability to match the supply to the demand also maintains a competitive price that helps both the consumer and the grower.

Rod with Mark Russell of Whittier Farms

* Rod with Mark Russell of Whittier Fruit Farm

Rod’s message rings true in many ways.  Have you noticed the taste and quality of certain fruits and vegetables has changed over the years?  A good example is the Honeycrisp apple.  I remember the first time I ate a Honeycrisp.  It lived up to its name.  It was very sweet and crispy, more than any apple I had ever tasted.  Over the years, the sweetness and crispness changed and the overall quality of the apple became inconsistent.  Today, the Honeycrisp can be disappointing based on where it’s from and how it is grown.  The growing standards put in place on SweeTango will help control the future quality of the product.

We personally have really enjoyed the SweeTango apple this fall.  Before seeing it in the markets in the Atlanta area, we purchased several while we were in Arizona last month.  It truly does have a unique taste which is crisp, bright, sweet, yet a bit tangy on the finish.  I’m not one to generally snack on apples, but I have found myself doing so with these.  In addition, they have been great to work with in recipes, as I mentioned in the first post about the SweeTango apple.  These apples have become a new favorite.

This soup was fabulous

This Sweet Potato and SweeTango Apple Soup was fabulous

Be sure to check your local markets to see if SweeTango apples are still available, although they do have a short season.  If your markets did not carry them this year, then be sure to ask the store manager about securing them for next fall.

Note – There was a giveaway associated with this post, but it ended in November 2013, so the post has been updated.

* Photos courtesy of SweeTango.

Disclosure – I was contacted by SweeTango to help promote their brief apple season in the Atlanta area.  While this post was compensated, as always, the opinions expressed on this site are my own.

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