Four Apples a Day (in the fall, anyway) Keep the Doctor Away -- A Guide to Minnesota's Apple Orchards

In ayurvedic medicine, good health begins by living in harmony with nature. That means eating seasonally appropriate foods (which, by the way, supports local farms) is an important building block to a healthy lifestyle. I notice my cravings change along with the seasons. One month ago, I couldn’t eat enough tomatoes; my garden couldn’t keep up with my appetite for those fragrant, juicy, sweet yet tangy spheres of bliss. But last night, those same tomatoes just didn’t taste as blissful. I can’t get excited over lemonade, lately, either, preferring hot tea to hydrate me. What’s more, I am considering investing in a slow cooker as the thought of stew has taken over the culinary chamber of my cranium. Pick some Minnesota apples this weekend.Pick some Minnesota apples this weekend.

And then, there are apples. I’m not a big fan of apples at any other time of the year. But starting with the fall equinox, there’s just something about them – especially our own local varieties – that is especially ap-peal-ing. The crunch, the tartness, the juice, the single-serving, easily toteable package. In autumn, apples are just awesome. You know the saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I think it’s true – on average. Here’s how I calculate it: for one quarter of each year – the three months of fall – if you eat four apples a day (not hard to do), you meet your one-per-day average for a whole year. And that keeps you healthier for the entire 12 months! So where do you get the apples that your body craves/needs so much right now? I’d recommend going straight to the source, one of Minnesota’s apple orchards.

Here’s a list, in no particular order, to start you on your search:

Minnesota Harvest offers pick-your-own apples, as well as ones already picked for you, including Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Haralson, Golden Crab and more. You can also go horseback riding while you’re there. 8251 Old Highway 169 Blvd., Jordan, MN 55352 952-492-7753

Montgomery Orchard lets you adopt your own tree, put your name on it, and visit it every year. And when you do, you’ll get to take home a free half-peck of apples from it. 15953 State Highway 99, Montgomery, MN 56069 952-221-1051

Afton Orchard has pick-your-own apples, fall raspberries and pumpkins. They also sell honey, jams, jellies, cider, maple syrup, unbaked frozen apple pies, and even have a petting zoo for the kids. 14421 S. 90th Street, Hastings, MN 55033 651-436-8385

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s AppleHouse offers as many as 50 varieties of apples throughout the season. They promised a limited supply of SweeTango apples last weekend. This weekend they’ve got Honeycrisp, Red Haralson and Sweet Sixteen. The AppleHouse is 1.5 miles west of the Arboretum entrance on State Highway 5 and Rolling Acres Road in Chanhassen. 952-443-1409

Applewood Orchard offers 13 varities, five of which are available this weekend. Choose Liberty for cooking, Sweet Sixteen for pies, and Cortland for salads. 22702 Hamburg Avenue, Lakeville, MN 55044 952-985-5425

Need more to choose from? Then visit All About Apples: Minnesota Apple Orchard and Farm Listings, where you’ll also get tips for growing your own apple trees.

Shari Manolas Danielson is a writer, editor, information designer, yoga teacher, gardener, wife and mama. She has three, newly planted Honeycrisp apple trees in her backyard, but no apples yet. For more of her writing, check out her blog