Apples are here; Aamodt’s in Stillwater opens for the season

Aamodt's Apple Farm now has the late summer Mantet, Duchess and Viking apple varieties ready for purchase. (Gazette staff photo by Alicia Lebens)

Aamodt’s Apple Farm now has the late summer Mantet, Duchess and Viking apple varieties ready for purchase. (Gazette staff photo by Alicia Lebens)

The bite of autumn air hasn’t reached Minnesota yet, but fall favorite Aamodt’s Apple Farm is ready with the first of the apple harvest.

“We just opened on our 66th year here on Aug. 1,” said Chris Aamodt, the third generation owner of the family-operated farm. “In the larger sense, not much has changed since my grandfather first started.”

The Aamodt family, now with fourth generation members working behind the counters, has been growing apples since 1948 and is committed to suppling fresh, Minnesota-grown apples to visitors.

“The biggest thing that has changed the apple-growing world in the past few years are the new varieties of apples,” Aamodt said. “As a kid, I only remember one or two coming out. Now you see new hybrids.”

The most famous of all the new varieties of apples are the Honeycrisp apples, created by the University of Minnesota.
“The University of Minnesota made about $5 million on the Honeycrisp,” Aamodt said. “Breeders can see that there is a demand for and money to be made in trying new apple hybrids.”

What makes Aamodt’s Apple Farm worth the trip is how fresh the apples are in their barn store.

“The only apples that you can buy that are grown here are the pick-your-own kind,” Aamodt said. “For the apples you buy in our store, they come from a large apple orchard in southern Minnesota. That’s where all the many varieties are grown.”

Aamodt said that unlike apples bought in grocery stores, you can be sure that his apples are grown in Minnesota.
“Even apples labeled as Minnesota Honeycrisp could be grown in California or in other countries,” Aamodt said. “There just are not enough apple orchards in Minnesota to supply the amount of apples in stores.”

To keep the apples their absolute freshest, they are refrigerated within an hour of picking.

“Unlike a grocery store, we keep the apples refrigerated from when they are picked to when they go out on the floor,” Aamodt said. “Flavors change the longer an apple is aged. This way keeps the apples their best.”

Right now, the bushels of apples in the store are the
Mantet, Duchess and Viking varieties.

“The early August apples are traditionally for canning and making jelly,” Aamodt said. “There are not as many canners out there anymore, so the season doesn’t really pick up until Labor Day.”

Rhe few weeks after Labor Day are when Aamodt calls the peak apple season.

“We have some events going on, and some activities for kids to do at the farm,” Aamodt said. “It is just a good time to come sip some hot apple cider and pick some apples.”

Aamodt’s Apple Farm is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, and Aamodt encourages people in the local area to come during the week if they can.

“Weekends are very busy with people driving in for the apples,” Aamodt said. “We love seeing everyone come, but I always joke with my local friends, ‘Why battle the traffic on the weekend?’ This year we are running the weekend activities during the week, so locals could come by during the week for a more relaxed environment.”

Aamodt expects the end-of-August apples, Zestars and SweeTangos, in the coming week.

“We planted a few more RiverBelles and Honeycrisps, because they are so popular, so people can expect a bigger supply of them come September,” Aamodt said.

Aamodt’s Apple Farm is located at 6428 Manning Ave., Stillwater.

Contact Alicia Lebens at alicia.lebens@ecm-inc.com

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