I LOVE APPLE SEASON here in Minnesota. Stopping at a local apple orchard for recently-harvested apples or picking my own (especially with the grandkids) gives me joy.
That joy comes in supporting locally-grown, in the experience and in that first bite into a crisp, fresh apple. I love the crunch, the tang, the juiciness. An apple tastes of sun and rain, summer and autumn… so much goodness inside.
I live in a state known for developing apples through a breeding program started at the University of Minnesota in 1878. The U has released 28 apple varieties like Haralson (released in 1922), Keepsake (1978), Honeycrisp (1991), Frostbite (2008), SweeTango (2008) and First Kiss (2017). My favorites are Honeycrisp and First Kiss.
Beyond apples, some orchards in my area also offer freshly-pressed cider, apple crisps, apple pies, caramel apples and my must-have, sugary apple cider mini donuts hot out of the grease. Yum.
Many other non-apple goods are also often available such as local honey and maple syrup, pumpkins, squash, fudge, crafts and more.
In my area, Montgomery Orchard crafts hard ciders and wine. Keepsake Cidery, rural Dundas, makes hard cider, too. Both places often feature musicians.
More and more apple orchards are offering experiences to draw in young families or anyone really who is looking for something to do in the Minnesota countryside on a beautiful autumn day. There are corn mazes and apple tosses, photo ops, wagon rides through the orchard… It’s all about creating experiences and memories.
Tucked into my memory is an apple orchard outing with my eldest daughter and her family and our son-in-law’s family a few weeks back. Our group of 10 aimed for the apple trees, 3-year-old Isaac bumping along in an oversized wagon pulled by his mom under a cloudless sky. A lovely morning with an edge of cool. As the crew gathered apples, I mostly watched, taking in this precious time together—how Isaac thrilled in twisting an apple from its stem. How Isabelle, 6, raced ahead. How our bags filled with apples. How we later shared a bag of apple cider donuts, sugar coating our greasy fingers, as love filled our hearts.
TELL ME: Have you visited an apple orchard this fall? I’d love to hear about your experience.
Apple orchards in my area include: Trumps Orchard, Apple Creek Orchard, Montgomery Orchard, Fireside Orchard and then the cidery, Keepsake Cidery.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling