Glorious Apples

Local apples are ripe for the picking—find harvest dates by variety, searchable orchard map, and recipes from savory to sweet

Photo U.S. Apple Association

Prefer an apple that’s sweet and tender or crisp and tart? Either way, Minnesota’s growers aim to please. You’ll find a great range of delicious apples for picking and for purchase in the orchards’ shops along with tasty apple goods and gifts. While a number of the usual events planned for the harvest season had to be canceled due to COVID-19 this year, there may be some events, corn mazes and also pumpkin picking available at various orchards.

I turned to John Jacobson with the Minnesota Apple Growers Association and Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake again this season to offer insight into harvest timing by variety so you can keep in mind the estimates below as you plan your apple orchard outing. If you don’t see your favorite variety on the list, it has already reached its harvest date, but you may still find some in the stores. When in doubt, call ahead to the orchard you wish to visit to see what’s ripe for the picking and special COVID-19 precautions that are in place.

Local Apple Harvest 2020 Estimates

  • Sweet Sixteen: September 21
  • Cortland: September 21
  • Honeycrisp: September 28
  • Haralson: September 28
  • Honeygold: October 1
  • Red Fireside: October 10
  • Regent: October 12
  • Keepsake: October 12

U of M Apple Varieties

Since the apple breeding program began at the University of Minnesota in 1888, nearly 30 apple varieties have been released, including the popular Honeycrisp and SweeTango, among others. You can learn more about the U of M varieties currently available at some local apple orchards and to purchase here.

Find an Orchard

Looking for a nearby orchard or want to plan a day trip? The Minnesota Department of Agriculture offers a searchable map on its Minnesota Grown website that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Keep ‘em Cool

If you refrigerate apples as soon as you bring them home, it will slow ripening and maintain flavor so they can keep from four to six weeks.


Homemade Apple Pie


Hungry for Apple Recipes?

Check out these delicious ideas:

Easy as Pie
Fear not: It’s easier than you think to make delicious pie—we’ll start with apple.

Apple Pancakes with Maple-Apple Sauce
It’s apple harvest time, so step up your breakfast with apples in the pancake mix plus a sweet apple maple sauce to top it all off.

Good Apples
Apples mix up great meals from dinner (Pork Fajitas with Apple-Cilantro Salsa) to dessert (Apple-Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart).

Caramel Apple Mace Shortcakes
Whip up a delicious combination of caramel apples and shortcakes for any get-together.

Cinnamon Apple Cake
As the all-too-short summer turns to autumn, enjoying a harvest treat can help ease it in.

Autumn Harvest Salad
Apples join spinach, dried cranberries, and a little bacon—which makes everything better—in a nutrient-packed salad.

Apple-Pecan Cake with Warm Caramel Sauce
More apple than cake, this is rich and spicy and satisfying in ways pie never could be.

Cheddar-Apple-Walnut Muffins
Embrace fall with flavorful muffins that are crunchy and rich with cheese and walnuts as well as tangy fruit.

Curried Apple-Squash Soup
Need another idea for all those apples you’ve picked? Combine them with squash in this vibrant soup and celebrate a twofold harvest.

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Mary Subialka
Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.