One of the pleasures of an October visit to Minnesota is a visit to the local apple orchards. In large part, this is due to a century of apple breeding at the University of Minnesota, whose apple program reminds me of the wine-grape-breeding program at UC Davis, closer to where I live.
UMN’s latest blockbuster variety is the Honeycrisp, which showed up in California supermarkets last year, but was already well-known in the midwest.
My personal favorite, though, is the Prairie Spy, which dates back to the 1940s. My taste here runs to a hard, tart apple, not all that sweet; I seem to be in a minority. I’ve got no quarrel with the Honeycrisp, though, which manages to be sweetly tart and, well, nicely apple-flavored.
There are plenty of orchards around here (I’m writing in St Louis Park, just west of Minneapolis) where you can sample dozens of variety and take your favorites home. I’ll be visiting Sponsel’s Minnesota Harvest this afternoon, one of my favorites, with a stunning variety of apple varieties on offer.