Minnesota is the birthplace of some really good apple varieties. We went to an apple orchard near the St. Croix River this weekend to pick up some of them. Pictured above is a Honeycrisp apple, which was developed by the University of Minnesota and first released in the early 1990s. Honeycrisps are now grown in Oregon, Washington State, and even New Zealand. Of course the best ones are still grown in Minnesota.[grin] Another wonderful eating apple is the Sweetango, which is a bit more dense than Honeycrisp, but really, really good. Try them, if you happen to see them in your local grocery store. Commercial apple trees aren’t pretty. They’re kept stubby so the apples remain within reach. If you’ve never seen trees in an orchard, it’s kind of a shock how Dr. Zeusy they look with long branches drooping almost to the ground and heavy with fruit.They were demonstrating cider making at the orchard. It’s a messy, sticky proposition that attracts hornets when the weather is warm enough. The machinery is definitely the coolest part of cider.
Another great variety of apple developed in Minnesota is the Haralson, an older variety from the early 1900s. The best thing about Haralsons is their tart taste and the way they hold their shape when cooked. Here’s what I cooked up after we got home from the orchard. And this is what my youngest daughter made with leftover pie dough.Guess what? She ate the whole thing, plus a piece of the apple pie. Must be all that hiking around in the fresh air.