Even though Minnesota winters can be fierce, our environment supports growing a tantalizing array of fruits. The University of Minnesota is a world leader in breeding apples that thrive in cold regions. Did you know that since the U began breeding apples in 1878 it has released 24 new apple varieties?

We’ve gathered the newest U of M apple introductions in order of harvest/availability. There’s no need to have just one favorite when you can delight your taste buds with amazing varieties throughout apple season.

Rave® and First Kiss®

Introduced in 2017, “First Kiss®” identifies Minnesota-grown apples. A cross between a Honeycrisp and an Arkansas apple, these are tantalizingly juicy and crisp with a lightly tart taste and deep color. Available in mid to late August, Rave and First Kiss can be stored up to five months after harvest.


Juicy, light, crisp, with a sweet-tart taste with a hint of brown sugar, Zestar! is available from late August to early September. It was introduced in 1999.


With the crisp texture of a Honeycrisp and the juiciness of a Zestar!, what’s not to love about a SweeTango? These deep red beauties have a yellow background. Introduced in 2009, SweeTango is harvested in early September.


These amazing apples helped to reinvigorate the apple industry in 1991 because people were weary of stale-tasting mushy apples. The balance of sweet and tart coupled with a crisp juicy texture make Honeycrisp apples a favorite. The apples were bred to literally explode in the mouth via larger cells that deliver impressive juice and crunch. Harvested in Minnesota from mid-September to early October, Honeycrisp apples store for at least seven months.


Harvested approximately two weeks after Honeycrisp, this large, bronze-red blush beauty’s firm snowy white flesh is very slow to oxidize (turn brown) after cutting. Introduced in 2006, the University of Minnesota describes this apple as “savory, sweet tasting … with a slight tart balance and rich overtones.”


People tend to be strongly in the love or hate camp with this apple, first available in 2014. It’s very small, maroon-red over yellow, firm, juicy, and intensely sweet, so it makes great cider. It is available late in apple season. This apple is a “grandparent” to the Honeycrisp; it has been propagated by the U since the 1920s.

You can learn about all of the University of Minnesota’s apple varieties here.

We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to partner with Adam Turman to create our Winnesota Summer scratch game and celebrate what is special and unique about summer in Minnesota. His apple image was our inspiration for this post. We hope you might enjoy some new varieties of apples this year.