MN Apple Orchards: A Fall Favorite
Even before the air becomes crisp and the days become noticeably shorter, the first apple varieties are ready to harvest across the state. Beginning in August and September, Minnesota orchards begin to open.
Since 1878 the University of Minnesota has worked to develop cold hardy apple varieties, whose trees could withstand our long Minnesota winters. In recent years, the state has become well known for varieties like the Honeycrisp, Sweet Sixteen, Haralson, and newer SweeTango® and SnowSweet® varieties, among others – all developed in Minnesota. The Honeycrisp, designated the Minnesota State Fruit in 2006, is credited with reviving the state’s apple industry, especially smaller family run orchards.
Be sure to plan an afternoon trip to a local orchard. Many not only offer apples pre-picked and pick-your-own, but also feature family activities like hay rides, stores and bakeries, or wine tastings to enjoy a warm afternoon. Here are five to visit:
Pine Tree Apple Orchard: More than 100 years old, Pine Tree grows more than 300 acres of apples, along with strawberries and pumpkins near White Bear Lake. Its more than 25 varieties – including the new SweeTango – are harvested beginning in early August through late October, though apples are available for sale through February. In September and October, the orchard offers wagon rides, a corn maze and live entertainment. The orchard’s bakery makes fresh apple, pumpkin and strawberry rhubarb pies, and hand-dipped caramel apples August through October.
Aamodt’s Apple Farm: Aamodt’s in Stillwater grows more than 20 apple varieties, including Sweet Sixteen, Honeycrisp, Fireside and Haralson. The orchard offers pick-your-own dates in the fall, as well as pre-picked varieties and a range of apple treats in its store. After you find your apples, stay for a wine tasting, including the farm’s own St. Croix Vineyards label.
Apple Jack Orchards: Growing more than 30 varieties, Apple Jack in Delano offers a flavor for every taste. Pick your own apples or visit the Apple Market August through December. The orchard has a full range of activities every weekend in the fall, including wagon rides, a corn maze, live entertainment and outdoor dining.
Fireside Orchard: Both pre-picked and pick-your-own apples are available at Fireside Orchard & Gardens in Northfield, including popular varieties like Zester, Haralson, Honeycrisp and Fireside. Pre-picked apples are available in a cool room to retain freshness. The Orchard’s store also sells pies, cider, fudge, jams, jellies, cheese, honey, maple syrup and a variety of produce. Its apples are also made into apple wine at nearby Cannon River Winery, and the wine is available for sale at the Orchard store.
Whistling Well Farm: South of Afton State Park and along the St. Croix River in Hastings, Whistling Well Farm grows popular local varieties like Zester, SweeTango, Honeycrisp, Haralson and Honeygold. Its store offers cider, pumpkins, honey, and caramel apples daily August through November.
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