The University of Minnesota has developed 27 different types of apples since 1878 – 18 of which are still grown and eaten across the world today. This means that every time you bite into an apple, chances are it has Minnesota roots.
And it also means that SPAM isn’t Minnesota’s only important culinary contribution.
Now, the mad scientists behind apple breeding at the U of M are ramping up the hype for their latest creation: Called “First Kiss” to invoke sweet feelings of nostalgia, and produced in Minnesota orchards, it is the result of a decades-long search for a perfect, early-season malus pumila.
“We’re excited for Minnesotans to get their first taste of First Kiss this fall,” said Jim Luby, UMN Professor of Horticultural Science. “Through two decades of evaluating hundreds of crosses and thousands of trees, First Kiss distinguished itself throughout our research and trials as a superior, early fall apple.”
The search began in the 1990’s, when apple breeders David Bedford and Luby decided to create an apple similar to the Honeycrisp, but one that could be enjoyed much earlier in the year. After “years of rigorous trials,” they finally found success crossing a Honeycrisp with an early-ripening varietal from the University of Arkansas, called the “AA44.”
And so the First Kiss was born, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It has the taste and the crunch of a Honeycrisp – arguably the most popular apple ever to come out of Minnesota – but superior in one specific way: You can enjoy it before Labor Day. The apple will be harvested as the middle of August, almost a month before the Honeycrisp.
The U of M describes the fruit as having a “lively, tart flavor” – and we’ll soon be able to verify. While they will limit its initial availability, there are plans to expand production within the next few years.
Read more: www.mnhardy.com
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