Local Apples are Ripe for the Picking

Check out 2021 harvest dates by variety, a searchable orchard map, and apple recipes from savory—including Smoky Apple & Butternut Squash Soup—to sweet


One of the glorious things about this time of year is that it’s apple harvest season—and local orchards are ripe for the picking. Of course, you don’t need to actually pick them yourself if you would rather have help with that, as most orchards will have plenty of apples ready to purchase, and perhaps some pies, jams and jellies, cider and more.

I wondered if the drought this growing season may have had an impact on local apples so checked in with John Jacobson of the Minnesota Apple Growers Association and Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake. “All of our new high value apple trees do have trickle irrigation, so the effect on those trees and varieties was minimal,” said Jacobson. “Our older established trees with deep root systems survived, but I am seeing a reduction of apple size. The rain we have received over the last weeks has been greatly appreciated,” he noted.

Even if some of the apples around might be a little smaller than other years, they will still be delicious, and a visit to a local orchard is always a fun outing. If you are looking for a nearby orchard or want to plan a day trip, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture offers this searchable map on its Minnesota Grown website that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

If you are looking for a particular variety, see the harvest 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 there and in the stores. When in doubt, call ahead to the orchard you wish to visit to see what’s ripe for the picking.

Tip: 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. Then you will be sure to have them on hand for snacking and to use in a great variety of recipes.

Local Apple Harvest Estimates 2021

  • 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
Smoky Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

Photo: U.S. Apple Association

Smoky Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

Makes about 7 cups | Recipe courtesy of U.S. Apple Association

Two fall favorites come together in this quick and easy soup.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 large onions, finely chopped (about 4½ cups)
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks (about 6 cups)
1 pound sweet apples, peeled and cut into chunks (about 3½ cups)
1 cup apple juice (more if necessary)
1 cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
toasted pecans, for garnish, if desired
sour cream, for garnish, if desired
apple slices, cut thin, for garnish, if desired

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium heat; add onions and chili powder; cook and stir until onions are tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add squash, apples, apple juice, chicken broth, salt and pepper; bring to boil.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat until apples and squash are very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  4. Puree with an immersion blender or a food processor; return to saucepan. Add additional apple juice or broth, if needed.
  5. Garnish with toasted pecans, sour cream swirls and thin apple slices, if desired.

Nutrition Info Apple And Squash Soup (Per Serving): Calories 130; Fat 4g (Sat. 2g); Chol 5mg; Sodium 290mg; Carb 23g; Fiber 3g; Protein 2g

Hungry for More Apple Recipes?

Check out this roundup of recipes I have highlighted on this site:

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 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 son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.