It’s not called Minne-apple-is for nothing!

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What better way to celebrate the gorgeous Minnesotan fall than by eating apples? Along with pumpkin, apple is one of the most quintessential tastes of fall. The wide variety of apples available in the Midwest makes this tasty treat both easily accessible and especially fresh and delicious.

This is the peak end of the apple season, so these next few weeks are the perfect time to get those last fresh apples before the weather turns cold.

If you have a car, taking a half-hour drive out to one of the nearby apple orchards is a must. Many local orchards offer not only a chance to pick apples, but also a chance to enjoy delicious apple cider and other apple treats.

One of the most accessible local orchards is Afton Apple Orchard. Featuring a corn maze, petting zoo and playground, it offers an especially festive approach to apple picking. Afton is one of the closest local orchards, merely a thirty minute drive away.

If you happen to be looking for a pumpkin to carve, Afton Orchard just might be the place—they have several fields full of pumpkins for sale.

Another nearby orchard is AppleWood Orchard. They currently have numerous varieties available for picking including Haralsons, Fireside, Honeygold and Regents. Located in Lakeville, Minnesota, AppleWood Orchard is about a 35 minute drive south from Macalester. Make sure to bring a few extra dollars for the 10-acre corn maze that has been rated one of the top mazes in the Twin Cities area.

Close to Afton Orchards, Whistling Well Farm is another option for apple picking near Mac. Unlike Afton Orchard and AppleWood, they don’t have the myriad of extra activities, but they have great apple picking and a farm market with various baked goods and apple cider. If you can’t get out to visit, fear not! Whistling Well has a vendor at the St. Paul Farmer’s Market where you can pick up freshly-picked apples without the long drive.

Check out the map below for more nearby options offering apple picking and other fun, festive activities. One of the benefits of visiting an orchard is that the quality of the apples far surpasses your everyday Café Mac apple—and the countless varieties offer enough choices to satisfy anyone’s apple cravings. Whether you like your apples tart and crispy or sweet and juicy, or any combination in between, you can almost certainly find it at one of the many local orchards.

If you don’t have a car, or the time to make the trek to an orchard, local farmers’ markets often have a great selection as well. A number of nearby orchards set up stands at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, so you can get fresh apples without any hassle. Certain grocery stores, like Whole Foods, sometimes stock local apples as well.

There are many fun things to do with apples beyond just eating them plain. Apple cider, apple pie, apple tarts—the list goes on and on! There are so many easy ways to eat and cook apples, even in a dorm.

You can make fantastic caramel apples in a microwave (see below), or, with just a little more effort, a superb apple crisp. And let’s face it, you can’t screw up freshly-picked apples. They’re a treat no matter how you eat them.

Microwave Caramel Apples

Ingredients:

• 5 medium-sized apples

• 1 package of soft caramel candies (Kraft makes cheap ones)

• chopsticks or popsicle sticks

• 2 tablespoons water

• microwave

Instructions:

  1. Add the water and unwrapped caramel candies to a bowl.

  2. Heat the caramel in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Be sure not to let the caramel burn.

  3. Take the stems out of the apples, then push the apples onto the chopsticks.

  4. Finally, dip apples into the caramel, making sure to coat them thoroughly.

  5. Let apples set on wax paper for several hours in a refrigerator or enjoy immediately!

Local Orchards

Aamodt’s Apple Farm 6428 Manning Ave N, Stillwater, MN Approx. 30 minute drive

Afton Apple Orchard 14421 90th St S, Hastings, MN Approx. 30 minute drive

AppleWood Orchard 22702 Hamburg Avenue, Lakeville, MN Approx. 30-40 minute drive

Minnetonka Orchards 6530 County Road 26, Mound, MN Approx. 40 minute drive

Whistling Well Farm 8973 St Croix Trail S, Hastings, MN Approx. 30-40 minute drive