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Grow with KARE: Top five favorite apples

David Bedford is THE apple guy at the Arboretum, so we asked him for his top list of apples for fresh eating, baking and growing at home.

Here we are in the peak of apple season. And we’re lucky to chat with David Bedford who’s responsible for all these apples! (Well, he’s a major part of the apple team at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.)

We asked him to pick out some of your favorite apples to share with us.

He starts with Zestar. Not as crisp of a texture as Honeycrisp but it has a “wonderful, fresh flavor”. David says zester tops the list for apples to bake or cook with, but is also good for fresh eating.

It has a good balance of acid and sweet, and is also a great apple to grow at home.

Next up is SweeTango. The texture is more crisp and sweeter than Zestar. But it still has that tang… hence the name, SweeTango! While you can bake or cook with SweeTango, David says it’s really good for fresh eating. SweeTango are not available for growing at home.

First Kiss makes David’s top list too. This one is more of a tart apple. And while it works fine for cooking, again this one is best for fresh eating. You might also see First Kiss labeled as Rave in the grocery stores. They are the same apple but First Kiss are grown in Minnesota and Rave are grown elsewhere. Like SweeTango, these are only available to grow commercially and not for the home garden.

And of course Honeycrisp is a favorite for David and pretty much everyone! The texture is fantastic with a great balance of sweet and tangy. Eat these fresh for sure! Honeycrisp are available to grow at home.

And finally, a favorite of David’s that doesn’t taste good? What? He can’t even tell us what it’s called but this super secret apple has a surprise inside… Eventually David hopes to breed this apple into a tasty version with a rosy and white interior. How exciting! He’s promised to keep us posted.

If you haven’t yet, head over to the Arboretum’s Apple House for a bushel or two!