Every few years scientists at the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station release a new fruit variety for northern gardens. While they are always good, sometimes an introduction is spectacular. Such was the case of the Honeycrisp apple released in 1991. Honeycrisp apple trees have been sold in local nurseries and garden centers since then, so each year more apples are available. Yet the demand for the apple remains much greater than the supply.
It’s a midseason cultivar — a cultivated variety — harvested between Sept. 15 and Oct. 10 and recommended for commercial and home garden production. The trees have demonstrated good hardiness under normal winter conditions in east-central Minnesota. The Honeycrisp’s sweet taste and vibrant red color are among the traits that made it popular. In fact, it’s so popular that this cultivar has been our official state apple since 2006.
Honeycrisp apples have a pleasant balance of sweetness and tartness, a mildly aromatic flavor and juicy texture. The fruit has shown excellent storage characteristics. The outstanding flavor and texture can be maintained for at least six months in refrigerated storage. These apples ripen evenly and hold well on the trees, so they can be harvested over an extended period or in a single picking.
Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.