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FirstFruits Marketing announced Jan. 4 that Opal apples, a unique variety that made its U.S. debut last year, will be available from January through May, or while supplies last.

The Opal variety has a bright, yellow color with hints of orange but is most recognized for its distinctively crunchy texture and sweet flavor. Additional attributes include medium-round shape and stem-end russetting.

Opal apples were embraced by media and consumers alike after their initial launch last year. Food bloggers, Glamour.com and metropolitan media such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Opal's uniquely tangy flavor and crunchy texture. In taste tests, consumers gave Opal high marks compared to their favorite apples.

Discovered in Europe 11 years ago, Opal is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Topaz apple. In addition to its tangy flavor and crisp texture, Opal resists oxidation so it’s less likely to brown after slicing.

"We were thrilled with the response to Opal when we introduced it last year," Andy Tudor, marketing director for FirstFruits Marketing in Yakima, WA, said in a Jan. 4 press release. “Retailers reported strong consumer interest and sales that helped lift the whole category. We are once again proud to work with a quality-driven grower like Ralph Broetje to bring this varietal to more markets than ever before.”

Sales of Opal apples will be supported with in-store point-of-sale materials and consumer public relations efforts, including a new Facebook page for fans.

Opal apples are grown exclusively by Broetje Orchards in Washington state and distributed in the U.S. exclusively by FirstFruits Marketing.