Meet Piñata®: The Apple with a Tropical Twist


Say hello to the apple that tastes like the tropics: Piñata® brand Pinova cultivar apples! What is this apple and how did it come to be? Let’s dive in!

Known as Piñata®, this apple is a beautiful bi-colored variety that comes with a crisp, juicy bite. It has a red hue that covers a golden background, and has many modern apple lovers rejoicing with its tasty flavor profile. Piñata® apples are crisp and juicy with a balanced sweet and tart taste and a subtle pineapple finish – talk about unique!

So how did the Piñata® apple get its start? It was born in Dresden-Pillnitz, Germany by apple breeders that crossed three heirloom varieties – American classic Golden Delicious, England’s Cox’s Orange Pippin, and the Duchess of Oldenburg from Russia. Before Stemilt started growing the variety, it was planted and harvested in the European marketplace as Pinova, Sonata and Corail. The apple was developed just like any other modern variety (like Honeycrisp or Rave®) – through natural cross pollination methods. Pinova was released for commercial production in 1986 throughout Europe and quickly won over apple fans.

How did the apple make it to the USA then? Great question! The success of the apple and the attention it captured in Europe also caught the attention of the Mathison’s, Stemilt’s founding family. They decided to plant Pinova test trees in their Central Washington orchards. Central Washington is an impeccable growing region thanks to its plentiful sunny, warm (sometimes hot) days, natural water sources and nutrient-rich volcanic soil. This region is where Stemilt grows many of its apples.

After a couple years of researching and testing, the Mathison’s were so impressed with the apple’s unique flavor, crisp bite and versatility as well as its ability to grow well in Washington’s arid climate (another great attribute when it comes to growing apples), that they adopted the apple as their own in 2004 by purchasing the rights to market the variety in North America. Stemilt trademarked the apple as Piñata® in order to tie the apple’s given names (Pinova and Sonata) with its exciting and tasty attributes.

Each year, Piñata® is harvested from our Central Washington orchards in October and is available in stores nearly year-round. When our season in Washington winds up, we have partners in the southern hemisphere that provide stores with Pinata® apples, many of which are grown and certified organic!

Today, the apple is known as one of the best culinary apples out there, and a favorite among top chefs in the kitchen! That’s because Pinata® has to balanced sugars and acids, lots of juice, and a flesh that can withstand heat without breaking down.

Some of our favorite recipes that include Piñata® apples are:

Sheet Pan Cauliflower Gnocchi with Piñata® Apples and Sausage

Piñata® Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Sliced Piñata® Apple Boats

Salmon and Piñata® Apple Salad with a Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing

Piñata® tastes great in baked goods or thrown into a pan and sautéed. The apple’s structure allows for high heats, making it a wonderful addition to many dishes. However, it is also very refreshing and uber juicy, making it a great apple for snacking or adding into a salad. Honestly, there really isn’t much this apple can’t do!

Have you tried a Piñata® apple? Tell us your favorite way to use this variety!