September 14-15

We have a huge event happening this weekend on Saturday, September 14 when J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest, will come to the orchard to talk about his new book, The Lager Queen of Minnesota. Wood-fired Heggies pizzas start at 5:00, J. Ryan’s author talk begins at 7:00, and there will be copies of the book available for sale.

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The apples keep ripening and we’ve got a few new ones this week!

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  • Dolgo crab: if you’re a canner, get this one quick for the best crabapple jelly you’ve ever had

  • Firecracker: A red-fleshed crabapple on the large side with an intriguing flavor and a slight bitterness on the back end

  • Paula Red: a lovely early variety developed in Wisconsin and grown in Minnesota for years. Especially loveable for its strawberry flavors.

  • Macintosh: holy cow, I think this is the best apple this week. It’s amazing: it tastes like the best glass of fresh-pressed cider you’ve ever had. I’m usually not ever terribly impressed by Macintosh apples but this year’s crop made a believer out of me.

  • Ginger Gold: a crowd favorite. Crisp, juicy, and sweet.

  • Zestar!: probably the last of these this week, eat them fresh and use them for pie in combination with Macintosh.

  • Chestnut Crab: a perennial favorite and also a perennial unknown. If you’ve never had this apple, try it! Released by the U of M in 1947, this apple is crunchy and sweet with a lot going on. A favorite of Minnesota cidermakers.

  • Honeycrisp: no explanation necessary! Our first week of Honeycrisp for the year.

  • SweeTango: possibly the world’s most perfect apple? It has Honeycrisp’s texture with sweet-tart flavor for miles.

  • Luscious pears: not too many of these so if you love pears, come quickly!

And then we have two more apples this week that we have in quantities only for tasting, not for purchase:

  • St. Edmund’s Russet: probably picked too late, but worth a try. Our first crop ever! A must try if you love russets.

  • Major: a bitter cider apple that, to my mind, is a real looker.

St. Edmund’s Russet and Major

St. Edmund’s Russet and Major

September 7-8

Welcome to fall!

Our apple line-up this weekend includes the following:

  • Dolgo: great for making jelly

  • Firecracker: red-fleshed and more delicious than usual this year because it’s somewhat less astringent. Good for jelly, also for cider.

  • Hybernal: a quite tart and old-fashioned variety

  • Centennial: pleasant, sweet little crabapples that I included this week since they cook down so quickly for sauce or apple butter

  • Paula Red: for fans of Macintosh, a bit tart

  • Williams Pride: if you can get past its thick skin, it has an amazing watermelon bubble gum flavor

  • Chestnut: a U of M release and a pleasant, crunchy, sweet-tart little apple

  • Zestar!: they’re a bit tart this year even though they colored up quite nicely. A firmer texture too, this year.

  • Ginger Gold: Sweet and crunchy and juicy, a real crowd pleaser

  • SweeTango: perhaps the world’s most perfect eating apple? A cross between Honeycrisp and Zestar!, it has the explosive crispness of Honeycrisp with a fabulous flavor that balances

From left: Dolgo, Firecracker, Hybernal, Centennial, Paula Red, Williams Pride, Chestnut, Zestar!, Ginger Gold, SweeTango

From left: Dolgo, Firecracker, Hybernal, Centennial, Paula Red, Williams Pride, Chestnut, Zestar!, Ginger Gold, SweeTango

Adolescent Apples

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the second-leaf apple trees (that’s what growers call the trees in their second year in the ground) and it’s been nothing but a pleasure to get up close and personal with these trees, spend quality time outside in the orchard, and get a sneak preview of apple varieties that we’ve never encountered before.

When I go outside, my camera’s never far away, so enjoy these midsummer photos!