Brrrr!!! And yet I’m glad to be in Minnesota instead of North Dakota today!

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We’e got a great apple line-up today as we start getting into some of the later-season varieties:

  • Haralson: a Minnesota classic. Crunchy and tart, a standby for pie and acid lovers.

  • Bonnie Best: a great pie apple that cooks up to the perfect texture.

  • Liberty: a tart apple from the McIntosh family that we use quite a bit for cider.

  • Ruby Jon: a member of the Jonathan family with an extra-dark skin that bleeds a bit into the flesh

  • Prairie Spy: a muted tartness and an incredibly dense texture make the Prairie Spy a favorite for long-term storage.

  • Regent: a U of M release that combines sweet, tart, and crunch.

  • Connell Red: a sibling of Fireside with the same flavor profile.

  • Fireside: another U of M release. Its low acidity prompts comparisons to pears.

  • Honeygold: what a pleasure this apple is. It’s juicy, crunchy, and sweet with just a hint of tart to it that keeps it interesting.

  • Snowball. Not an apple! More of a commentary on the weather.

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Our extra taste we have this week belongs to the Chisel Jersey, which is a cider variety. These apples were grown on second-year trees so we don’t have enough for you to take home, but please be sure to try a taste of this “spitter” and see why it’s a variety that’s great for making cider.

Next week we’ll be hosting a special day on Friday, October 17:

  • We’ll have our annual Kids Day from 10:00-4:00 with crafts for elementary schoolers and an orchard scavenger hunt for tweens. Kids get a free cider donut!

  • We’ll fire up the wood-fired oven for Heggies pizzas starting at 5:00.

  • And that night, we’ll host a cider and snack food pairing, which is a ticketed event (ticket link to come soon). Learn formal principles of cider pairing . . .but applied to snack food. Should be fun!

October 5-6 with the Good Vibes Trio

October greets us with chilly and soggy weather, but the barn is cozy — and will be extra cozy on Saturday evening with the Good Vibes Trio. The first of two sets begins at 7:00 with a $10 cover for adults and $5 for kids. Tonight’s menu includes your choice of a German brat (Odenthal’s), a Polish sausage (Odenthal’s); a German weiner (Odenthal’s) or a vegan apple brat (Herbivorous Butcher); with or without bun; sauerkraut; cucumber slices; and kettle chips ($8).

On to the apples for the weekend, and we have so many!

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From left to right in the photo above, this weekend apples include the following:

  • Haralson: a Minnesota classic with a tart crunch

  • Liberty: another tart apple from the McIntosh family

  • Bonnie Best: a beautifully-striped apple with a distinctly lavender color. An excellent culinary apple

  • Prairie Spy: the first of the season! A sleeper with a small but devoted core of aficionados.

  • Connell Red: also the first of the season! A lower acid apple that tastes perfectly mellow and sweet in this cooler weather.

  • Cortland: an apple with a lot going on in the flavor department. If sauce is in your future, pick up some of these apples.

  • Fireside: a U of M release that’s a gorgeous apple with a combination of striping and yellow, orange, and red blush. Same flavor profile as Connell Red since they’re sibling apple varieties.

  • Sweet Sixteen: we finally finished picking Sweet Sixteen after taking five different passes at the tree to achieve perfect ripeness. Ripeness matters so much with this variety: underripe and they’re sweet and hard; perfectly ripe and they have that amazing cherry popsicle flavor.

  • Honeygold: another first of the season! A perfectly pleasing apple with a sweet-tart crunch.

  • Honeycrisp: Minnesota’s new classic.

If you’re planning on doing any baking this week, I recommend a combination of two-thirds apples that cook up firm and and one-third that cook up saucy. For firm apples, look toward Haralson and Prairie Spy. For saucy apples, look no further than Cortland.

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As always, we have tastes of apple varieties that we don’t have enough of to sell but that we still want to share with you! Today, those varieties are two classics: Kingston Black and Ashmead’s Kernel. Kingston Black is renowned for being one of those very few cider apples that make a delicious single-variety cider. Ashmead’s Kernel is an English variety from the 1700’s that is good for eating, baking, and cider-making. Its claim to fame is superlative flavor. Come give them a try!

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And we have one more treat down here this weekend: it’s the release of our two new barrel-aged ice ciders. The first ice cider was aged in a new barrel made by Black Swan Cooperage here in Minnesota. The second ice cider was aged in a rye whiskey barrel from Far North Spirits in Hallock, Minnesota. A rainy day means a quiet day, so come try all three ice ciders next to the warmth of a fire. Yes — that sounds like a great way to spend part of a rainy Saturday!

September 28-29

Fall has arrived! It’s a beautiful day out here in the orchard (on Saturday at least) and I’ve never seen so many people lounging around the grounds.

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For apples this week, we have the following:

  • Wolf River: a large and surprisingly light apple. Great for making dried apples

  • Haralson: a tart Minnesota classic and a long-time favorite for pies

  • a mystery apple: these trees we got from the nursery were not what we ordered! Maybe Belle de Boskoop? Maybe Bramley’s Seedling? We’re not sure yet and we’ll keep working on figuring it out.

  • Cortland: here’s the apple of the week this week. Rich, apple flavor and just picked, so excellent texture.

  • McIntosh: a classic heirloom variety from Ontario, great for sauce

  • Liberty: a child of McIntosh and a scab resistant variety from the Purdue-Rutgers-Illinois breeding program.

  • Honeycrisp: no explanation necessary

  • Sweet Sixteen: a sleeper but a stunner of an apple. When perfectly ripe, you can taste cherry popsicle flavors and a hint of anise.

We’ve also got a few apples just for tasting — they’re from second-year trees and so the crop isn’t huge, but it’s enough so that we can share a taste with you.

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This apple is a French variety called Pomme Gris. These two-year old trees made it through our tough winter beautifully. This is a pleasant russeted eating variety. Its origins are disputed: some believe it’s from 17th-century France and others believe it’s a more recent discovery from Canada.

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Here’s a weird one: it’s actually from the University of Minnesota and has been around for a long time, but was only recently released. It was known as a numbered variety — MN447 — for a long time and then when folks’ tastes turned toward more interesting flavors, the U had a naming contest for this apple so it’s now known as Frostbite. It’s a parent of Sweet Sixteen and Keepsake, which also makes it a grandparent of Honeycrisp. You can see where Honeycrisp got its texture but this apple has a strange flavor that’s fairly divisive.

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Finally this week, we have Bulmer’s Norman, which is a cider apple. We may run out of this one on Saturday but if we do, we’ll pull out another cider variety for you to try. Bulmers Norman is a bittersweet apple from Normandy, France.

September 21-22

We’re into mid-season apples here and we have some real gems — especially historical gems — to share with you today.

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Today we’re looking at the following varieties:

  • Hybernal: tart and an extremely old variety that’s out of fashion. Used in the early 1900’s in Minnesota apple growing to achieve cold hardiness.

  • Macintosh: a classic discovered in Ontario in 1884. Perfect for sauce and sandwiches.

  • Chestnut Crab: released by the U of M in 1947, a crunchy and sweet gem.

  • Honeycrisp: enough said!

  • Ginger Gold: our last week of these, a sweet and crunchy crowd pleaser.

  • Jung pear: not too many pears this year after last year’s bumper crop. The kids have been eating these like crazy!