For a more current story on Opal apples, dated Jan. 5, 2011, read FirstFruits shipping Opal apples.

The Opal apple variety has been exclusively introduced to U.S. markets by Yakima-based FirstFruits Marketing, LLC and Broetje Orchards.

The new variety, characterized by bright yellow color with hints of orange blush, has what is described as a crunchy texture and a sweet flavor with a brix of 15 to 18, according to a news release from the company. The variety is a cross between the golden delicious and the Topaz, has a medium round shape, stem end gusseting and resistance to oxidation after slicing, according to the release.

Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of FirstFruits Marketing, said March 11 the company expects to market about 40,000 cartons of the Opal variety this year. The variety was selling about $1 per pound f.o.b. for the 27-pound euro carton, he said.

The marketing campaign accompanying the introduction of the Opal calls the variety “a new American jewel,” according to the news release.

The Opal, discovered in Europe in 1999, is grown exclusively in the U.S. by Ralph Broetje of Broetje Orchards, Prescott, Wash., The variety is available only through FirstFruits Marketing and is available from March through May, or as long as supplies last, according to the release.

Opal apple unveiled by FirstFruits