The apple is one of the most exquisite of our earth’s fruits, and Minnesota grows some of the best.

Apple growers of late are picking ripe Zestar (introduced by the University of Minnesota in 1998), Paula Red, State Fair (1977), and Renaissance, a recently named University of Minnesota production. Our family has a Zestar tree that I planted in the backyard a few years ago. The tree has produced large, crunchy, juicy, red fruit with a slightly sweet-tart flavor from the first year. More than 100 varieties of apples are grown in Minnesota, each with its own special flavor, texture and sweetness or tartness.

Many new apple varieties have been developed at the university’s Horticultural Research Center, including the popular Haralson apple in 1922. A few of the apple varieties that are ripe in mid- to late September include: Wealthy, Red Baron (1969), Sweet Sixteen (1978), Honeycrisp (1991), SnowSweet (2000) and McIntosh. The Wealthy apple, Minnesota’s oldest variety and introduced in 1873, was developed by Peter Gideon. He lived near Lake Minnetonka in the Excelsior area. McIntosh was discovered in 1796 as a chance seedling of unknown parentage in Ontario, Canada.

The apple season in Minnesota can run from late July into November. What’s an apple besides great taste? An apple contains about 80 calories and is 85 percent water, with vitamins A and C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, pectin and fiber.


Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.