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Promoting Apples





Did you know that apples have been grown and eaten by humans for thousands of years? Since 1924, scientists here in Minnesota have been breeding apple trees that can survive our Minnesota winters. There are over 24 Minnesota apple varieties that taste great and are grown right here in our state. One of those varieties, Honeycrisp, is even our state fruit!

Apples are a great "on the run" snack, not high in calories but filling, and a great source of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.

Apples ripen in the fall, and are being picked right now and sold fresh at local farmers' markets or in some area grocery stores (look for the Minnesota Grown label.) You can pick some up at a local orchard and eat them fresh, or bake a delicious apple crisp, using the recipe in this month's newsletter.

Today you'll be sampling different apple varieties from_____farm in Minnesota. Make sure to take the dot survey poll to show which apple you like best! And be sure to take the _______( specific food item) on the lunch menu next ______(day of the week).


In [MONTH] your child tried [FOOD ITEM] with locally grown apples from [FARM NAME] in [CITY] .

Prepare this delicious recipe with your family and ask your child(ren) if they can answer the following trivia questions:

  1. Minnesota scientists have been breeding apples that can survive our Minnesota winters since 1924. How many Minnesota apple varieties exist today?
  2. Minnesota’s state fruit is an apple. Can you name the variety?
  3. Apples are known as a great “on the run” snack. Why?

Trivia Answers

  1. There are 24 varieties of Minnesota apples.
  2. The Minnesota state fruit is the Honeycrisp apple. Honeycrisp apples are described as being “explosively crisp.” Honeycrisp apples also store longer than any variety in the world according to its developers at the University of Minnesota.
  3. Apples are a great "on the run" snack. A medium apple has less than 100 calories and apples are filling because they are packed with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.

MS Word version of Newsletter


History and Origin

  • People have been growing apples to eat for thousands of years. They are truly prehistoric. Carbonized remains of apples have been found by archeologists in prehistoric lake dwellings in Switzerland, dating back to the Iron Age. (
  • A round ripe apple may not conjure up visions of remote Kazakhstan, but it should! Research now supports the belief that the native apple of that region, Malus sieversii, a tree with no common name, is the ancestor of today's apples. In Kazakhstan, forests of wild apples, some growing at 10,000 feet, others in 1300 foot-deep canyons, show a wealth of diversity and resistance to disease and pests. (
  • The Pilgrims discovered crabapples had preceded them to America, but the fruit was not very edible. The Massachusetts Bay Colony requested seeds and cuttings from England, which were brought over on later voyages of the Mayflower. Other Europeans brought apple stock to Virginia and the Southwest, and a Massachusetts man, John Chapman, become famous for planting trees throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He became known as Johnny Appleseed.


  • One medium apple equals one serving of fruit.
  • Apples are an excellent source of fiber. One medium apple with the skin on provides 5 grams of fiber. Fiber and pectin help reduce cholesterol, aid in digestion, and may help prevent certain types of cancer.
  • Contains about 90 calories, and small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Vitamin C keeps gums, skin and blood vessels healthy and helps in wound healing. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and may protect against cancer
  • Apples are thirst quenching because they contain about 85% water. They are a perfect snack food because their natural sugars provide quick energy, while the bulky pulp makes the eater feel full.
  • Apple skins are especially rich in polyphenols and quercetin (antioxidants) that may prevent chronic disease. (Polyphenols are 5 times more prevalent in the skin than the flesh of the apples.)

Did you know…?

  • Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
  • An apple is in the pome family – a fruit whose seeds are embedded in the core of the fruit. Another surprising member of this family is the rose.
  • When an apple is sliced in half, the apple core looks like a star.
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
  • Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
  • The Chinese apple industry is 5 times the size of the US industry and l0 times larger than the largest European Union based producers, France and Italy.
  • University of Minnesota researchers have been breeding apples for almost a century. There are currently 24 University of Minnesota varieties being sold. The Horticultural Research Center (located ½ mile from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum) was established in 1908 as the University’s Fruit Breeding Farm to develop apple varieties that would thrive in Minnesota.
  • Apple varieties differ in many traits, including when they ripen, their texture, taste, and how long they can be stored without losing their flavor. Honeycrisp apples are described as being “explosively crisp.” Honeycrisp apples also store longer than any variety in the world according to its developers at the University of Minnesota .
  • Zestar apples ripen early in the season (late August) and can be stored up to 2 ½ months in your refrigerator and still taste good!
  • Honeycrisp, an apple variety released in 1998, is the Minnesota State Fruit!
  • The University of Minnesota recently had a contest to name its most recently released apple, “MN447.” MN447 was developed in 1921 and is the grandparent of the most famous University of Minnesota apple, Honeycrisp. It is used in the apple breeding program because it is the most winter hardy apple variety ever released by the University. The winning name? Frostbite!

How to Eat Apples

  • Between August and mid-October, apples are at their peak. If you're not planning to eat them immediately, store them in a cool, dark place.
  • Apples will remain crisp and juicy longer (10 times longer!) if you refrigerate them. Keep the apples in the humidifier compartment or in plastic bags with small air holes to keep a high moisture level.
  • Apples darken quickly when they are exposed to air. You can keep them looking fresh for cooking or preserving by dipping them in a lemon juice solution — mix three tablespoons of bottled lemon juice with one quart of water.
  • If you want to can or freeze apple slices, sauces, and sweet spreads, use only high-quality apples or apples with no signs of decay. Don't can fruit that has fallen from the tree, because they're likely to contain mold spores that can spoil the end result.
  • When freezing, pick apples that have crisp and firm textures, and use varieties that are good for making pies and sauces. Frozen apples keep better texture and flavor if they are packed in sugar or sugar syrup. However, you can freeze unsweetened apple slices if you are going to cook or bake them in pies or cobblers. Freeze slices on a cookie sheet and when they are completely frozen, remove the slices and pack them in freezer containers
  • The best apple varieties for making dried apple rings, wedges, and chips are firm-textured and tart.

The above information was compiled from:

“Apples for Minnesota and their Culinary Use" — U of M Extension publication
Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station website
Minnesota Grown’s September 2007 “Pick of the Month” Newsletter
Maine Apples
Apples in America — Exotic Origins.



Tasting Poster (297 K PDF)

Three-Column Poster (108 K PDF)


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apples on tree

Apples on tree

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside
green apples

Green Apples

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
apples in basket

Apples in Basket

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
Minnesota Grown apples

Honeycrisp Apples with Minnesota Grown label

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside

Age-Specific Activities and Lessons

The U.S. apple growers website has lesson and project ideas for students from preschool to middle school. Though not specific to Minnesota, you can use the ideas and plug in some Minnesota specific information from fun facts to give it a local spin! Specific links are provided below, but the educator link has additional materials for coloring books, crafts, and information.

  • Grades Preschool-3: Six-page PDF file with lots of good craft and puzzle information.
  • Grades 4-6: Six-page PDF file with good information, including a map with U.S. apple information. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Minnesota information, but you can add information about cold hardy apple variety breeding from the University of Minnesota Experiment Station.

Field Trips

Apples are the perfect opportunity for a field trip. Apples are harvested in the fall when when school is in session, but weather is still good. Many orchards are set up as tourist destinations, so they readily accommodate school classes. Perhaps the farmer who supplied the apples does farm tours. Check the Minnesota Grown directory, or our Farmer List, for apple orchards you can visit in your area.

If you are close to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, they have a specific education program for grades 1- 6 at the Apple House.

“Tour the orchard to see apple trees loaded with ripening fruit. Help make apple cider in an old-time cider press. Try an apple taste test, learn about apple blossom pollination, and taste fresh cider. TAKE HOME APPLES! Two new Reflect & Write options, aligned with MN Language Arts standards in writing.”

Call 952.443.1400 for more information about the Landscape Arboretum, or go to their website.

Older students might consider a field trip to the U of MN research sites to speak with apple breeders: call to make specific arrangements at the Arboretum, or at the University's North Central Research Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the coldest horticultural research center in the lower 48 states!

Additional Resources

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