It’s time again to turn our attention to Trader Joe’s freeze dried produce section – with Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Fuji Apples. We’ve seen considerable range in Trader Joe’s dessicated produce, from freeze dried grapes to dehydrated kimchi to vacuum fried banana chips. It would appear that Trader Joe’s has never met a piece of produce they didn’t want to turn into a dry, crunchy snack.
These apple slices appealed to me immediately because they entomb, for perpituity, my favorite apple, the glorious Fuji. So much better than mundane Red Delicious or unexceptional Gala, the Fuji is invariably dense, sweet and crisp – a thoroughly delicious apple that satisfies to the final bite. I can still remember my first bewitching bite of a Fuji apple to this day, as sweet as an illicit kiss on a rainy summer afternoon.
Fuji apples are, as you might imagine, quintessentially Japanese – originating in the far northern province of Aomori back in the 1960’s and taking the world by storm. The secret the Fuji hides, however, is that it is actually the result of cross-breeding two American apples – the ubiquitous Red Delicious and the lesser known Virginia Ralls Genet. These two strains were first genetically collided at an agricultural research center in the town of Fujisaki in the 1930’s. The apple subsequently took the name of the town as its own and never looked back. Whether out of a sense of national pride or, more probably, simple good taste, the Japanese have embraced the Fuji apple on a massive scale. 900,000 tons of the apples tumble out of northern Japan into grocery stores across the country every year, utterly eclipsing the sales of all other apple cultivars. Here in the states, the Fuji has yet to catch on so dramatically. It ranks fourth in popularity, behind the Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and, shockingly, the Gala. Wake up America – there are better apples out there!
The same qualities that the Japanese and myself admire in the Fuji apple – the sweetness and crispness – are the same qualities that make it such a good candidate for freeze drying. Like most fruits, the apple is nearly all water. The act of sucking the water out (or in this case, flash sublimating) is tremendously violent the apple itself, and hard to do without turning your apple slices into something squat and unrecognizable. The firm, crisp quality of the Fuji apple helps retain the shape of the slices, and it’s sweetness means that the apple’s whole, crisp and sweet taste is better preserved than it might be in lesser fruits. This is all the more impressive considering that these apple slices are unsweetened and unsulfured. These steps are usually taken to keep the dehydrated fruit looking and tasting something more or less like they do on the branch. The Fujis are simply so good that neither additive is necessary in the first place.
Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Fuji Apples are entirely delicious. Each slice is perfectly preserved in miniature, and bursts with sweet apple flavor as soon as you snap into its dry, airy form. While the taste is there, I’m left wondering how exactly one is meant best to enjoy them. They can be casually snacked on, like chips, but the 1.2 ounces of apple in the bag doesn’t last very long, even if the $2.99 price tag does justify the purchase. Trader Joe’s suggests tossing them on a salad or putting them in a trail mix, both of which seem reasonable within limits. The apples very sweet and might easily replace dried cranberries, although at a much higher price per ounce. Trail mix certainly couldn’t be a more natural fit – and I’ll consider including adding it in the next three or four times this decade that I have a reason to make trail mix.
Trader Joe’s final suggestion, to throw them on your cereal or oatmeal seems like the best idea, and probably the easiest way to incorporate these tasty little guys into you life. If for no other reason, pick a bag of these up to experience the Fuji apple in a whole new way.
Would I Recommend It: Sure, if you can think of a way to eat them.
Would I Buy Them Again: I don’t buy a lot of dried fruit, but I’d probably get these guys again anyway.
Final Synopsis: A fresh new way to eat delicious Fuji apples.