Apples & Pears
The apricot apple is an apple, but it carries the aroma of an apricot. It's hard to believe that aroma would come through to the taste, but they do. This is an amazing and hard-to-believe apple. When we have it in early October, we usually sell out within an hour.
Best for what? Best for pie! Although not a commonly cited variety when it comes to favorite pie apples, Bonnie Best is our favorite for its flavor and its texture: a pie or crisp made with Bonnie Best needs no sweeteners and barely any cinnamon. Its texture is pitch perfect: not too hard and not too saucy but just right. BB is a mid-season apple that is a little too soft to be a fresh-eating favorite but trust us: try it in pie. Developed in Wisconsin.
The Centennial Crab is a mildly sweet apple that is one of the earliest varieties we pick at the orchard. It's the cutest little crab apple with a yellow background and a blush that deepens as it ripens. It has many admirers among our customers for its taste and texture and even those who prefer a tarter apple with a crisper texture can't deny that it makes an awfully pretty picture. Introduced by the U of M in 1957.
Sweet and crunchy and almost always a surprise that a crab apple can taste that good. Siberian Crab x Malinda, U of M, 1949.
Connell Red and Fireside are really pleasant and sweet apples, but I’m hard pressed to describe their flavors. Try them and you tell us what you taste. Also note: go big when you’re picking these apples. Leave the small ones on the tree, we’ll make ‘em into cider. Why do I describe them together? The Fireside was introduced by the U of M in 1943 and besides being noted for its sweet, complex taste, it also has a lovely, stripey red-orange color. In a block of Fireside back in the 1950s, Tom Connell found an apple that looked remarkably different but tasted quite similar, thus the Connell Red.
An all-around apple, good for fresh-eating, baking, and sauce. Crispy and mildly sweet; its flesh stays white for a while after being cut. Ben Davis x McIntosh, Cornell University, 1915.
Originated in Oregon. Red skin and red flesh. Tart and crisp. Later season variety.
Super tart and excellent for jelly. A Russian crab apple imported to the U.S. just prior to the 19th century. Parentage is disputed.
Duchess (of Oldenburg)
The Duchess originated in Russia sometime during the 18th century. It has good flavor but due to a texture that's crisp for maybe only a day, it's better known as a baking apple. Regardless, it's a gorgeous apple that features candy-apple red stripes over a green-to-yellow background.
Red skin and red flesh. Tart and crunchy. Early season variety.
Connell Red and Fireside are really pleasant and sweet apples, but I’m hard pressed to describe their flavors. Try them and you tell me what you taste. Also note: go big when you’re picking these apples. Leave the small ones on the tree, we’ll make ‘em into cider. Why do I describe them together? The Fireside was introduced by the U of M in 1943 and besides being noted for its sweet, complex taste, it also has a lovely, stripey red-orange color. In a block of Fireside back in the 1950s, Tom Connell found an apple that looked remarkably different but tasted quite similar, thus the Connell Red.
Sweet and somewhat crisp. Originated in Virginia as a chance bud and named after the orchardist's wife. Virginia, 1960s. It's become a real favorite for many of our customers.
A classic multipurpose apple, delicious fresh, baked, and in hard cider.
Minnesotans’ second favorite apple. Some people swear by it for pie. Tart and juicy. Keeps through February. Wealthy x Malinda, U of M, 1922.
The Honeycrisp apple needs no introduction: it's Minnesota's state apple and, overwhelmingly, is our customers' favorite. Mid-season variety. Best for fresh eating and keeps until April. Keepsake x unknown, U of M, 1991.
"The champagne of apples," so said some of our customers, but tricky to grow and hugely dependent on the right temps. If your Honeygold is soft, that's not right: a good Honeygold should have crunchiness to it. Golden Delicious x Haralson, U of M, 1970.
As a true antique variety, it's difficult to find information out about Hybernal apples. They're beautiful (they look a bit like Wealthy with their yellow background and red striping) and have a tart, complex flavor.
An orchard original that resulted from a chance bud. It's a late-ripener and is distinguished by its ivory, slightly blush skin.
Jonathan is more commonly grown in southern states where it's regarded as one their best-loved varieties. Jonathans are small and are purportedly good for everything: fresh eating, baking, and sauce. From Orange Pippin, Jonathan is reported to have originated in 1864 from an Esopus Spitzenberg seedling (ES is the apple that's frequently associated with Thomas Jefferson).
Hard, crunchy, sweet. Stores well, through March. MN447 (Frostbite) x Northern Spy. U of M, 1978.
A scab-resistant variety that we've usually saved for hard cider but that are surprisingly tasty.
An East Coast favorite. White flesh with a hint of strawberry flavor. McIntosh x Jersey Black. New York, 1923.
Malinda is best known for its contribution to the gene pool of Minnesota’s best loved apples. It is a parent to Haralson, Beacon, and Chestnut Crab; a grandparent (through MN 447) to Sweet Sixteen and Keepsake; a great-grandparent to Honeycrisp; and a great-great grandparent to SweeTango.
A classic with a distinctive flavor. Deep red skin and white flesh, a favorite of bakers and saucers. Ontario, 1820s.
The taste of a Haralson with the texture of a McIntosh, which makes sense since it's a cross between those two apples. Developed in New York.
Heirloom variety with a small but devoted following. Excellent for baking and keeps well. Rochester, NY, 1840s. We sell few of these apples fresh and put most of them into hard cider.
A classic pie apple. We have only one Northwest Greening tree on the orchard, but it's a doozy: it's the oldest tree and is located in the middle of the orchard on its highest point. Golden Russet x Alexander, Wisconsin, 1872.
The Oriole was developed in Minnesota in 1949 and is better known as a cooking apple than as a fresh eating apple (in other words, great flavor, lousy texture). But try it fresh straight out of the refrigerator --- you might be impressed. Moderately tart. Yellow Transparent x Liveland Raspberry, U of M, 1949.
Crunchy with a good dose of sprightly acid and reminiscent of strawberries. Good for fresh eating, cooking, and sauce. Also, a relatively good keeper for an early-season variety.
All-around apple with a notably dense flesh. Somewhat tart and somewhat sweet, but truly with a unique flavor. Not related to Northern Spy. U of M, 1940.
Pristine is our earliest ripening apple, which means that it sometimes doesn't even make it to the market because it's so early (it ripened during the 1st week of August in 2010 and 2012). When that happens, it's a shame because Pristine is an early-variety gem. While most early apples tend to be soft and one-dimensional in flavor, Pristine has some crispness to it and a bit of sprightly acid that makes it a sweet-tart early season surprise. Like most early apples, it doesn't keep well: it bruises easily and loses its crisp quality relatively quickly.
Look for bumpy Red Barons; the smooth ones don't taste nearly as good. Mild, sweet flavor. Despite its name, it’s not very red. Stores for 4-5 weeks. Introduced by the U of M in 1970.
An early-season apple and a scab-resistant variety. We usually don't sell these apples because they don't have a great texture. But if we have any requests, we'll pull the few off the tree that we have. These trees won't be long-lived at the orchard.
A dark red version of the McIntosh. Just as McIntosh's peak is fading, Red Macs kick in with a solid contribution of their own.
Excellent sweet-tart flavor. Keeps through February. Introduced by the U of M in 1964.
A sport variety of Jonathan with deeply red skin. To us, tastier than Jonathan too.
I don't want to ruin the surprise. (Okay, it's green on the outside and red on the inside).
Tiny apples, good for jelly and to include in hard cider for their tannic qualities.
Green when it's ripe but when it's slightly overripe, its skin is a red blush on a yellow background. Crisp and sweet.
Deep sweet-tart flavor. Sharon x Connell Red, U of M, 2006.
A sport variety of the McIntosh.
A good, early-season eating apple that keeps relatively well. Sweet. Mantet x Oriole, U of M, 1977.
Hard and sweet with a hint (or more) of cherry popsicle. These apples taste different depending on the tree and when we pick them: for example, I picked a tree with apples that had that classic cherry popsicle flavor and then Mike picked a tree that had cherry popsicle plus anise. Our theory is that the more sunshine a tree receives, the more the cherry flavor pops. This variety stores for up to two months. It was developed by the U of M and introduced in 1977. Northern Spy x MN 447 (Frostbite). Malinda is a grandparent.
Crisp -- maybe even as crisp as a Honeycrisp -- juicy and sweet-tart. Zestar x Honeycrisp, U of M, 2005.
Surprisingly, the Viking was not developed in Minnesota but came here via Wisconsin and, before that, Illinois and Indiana. And no, there is no "Packer" apple as far as we know. The Viking is an early season apple noted for its deep purple skin and intense aroma; it's said that a single apple can perfume an entire room. Viking is tricky to pick because we try to hit that sweet spot between good texture and optimal flavor. A more firm texture usually means less sugar development and a tarter, less developed flavor; a better flavor means the texture can begin to soften. If you purchase Viking apples at the height of aroma and flavor, you won't go wrong by baking or saucing them.
Mike's favorite early-season variety. Excellent for fresh eating with a slight fruit punch/melon bubblegum flavor with each bite. Developed by the Purdue-Rutgers-Illinois program and released in 1988.
Huge! We sell this apple at the markets with a sign that says “impress your friends.” A good baker. We discovered that it's a bit bland eaten immediately after it's picked but that it develops a nice flavor after a period of time in refrigerated storage, even developing a bit of a "wrapped caramel" flavor.
Crisp, juicy, and sweet-tart. Stores well for an early season apple. State Fair x MN 1961, U of M, 1999.
We grow five varieties of pears (plus a delicious unknown variety that we sell as a "Mystery" pear). Pears are available between August and the end of September.
Wow. This is an amazing pear with a complex taste. When we have it at the markets, come early -- it seems to be our customers' favorite.
The skin of the Jung pear is somewhat tough, but it's a juicy, tasty pear.
Sweeter than the Jung pear, great for use in jam.
Hint of anise.
Summercrisp pears are the first to ripen. They're mildly sweet, crisp, and juicy.