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Haralson *

This hefty classic may be the second-most famous product of the apple-breeding program at the University of Minnesota. (The first? Need you ask?)

Thanks to a generous reader, I have two Haralsons straight from the North Star State. My description leans on the better of the two.

The round shape of this large apple is uninflected by ribbing. (Okay, there's a little ribbing on the second apple.)

A subdued streaky red blush with pink “dusty rose” tones (a second sample is streakier and more conventionally red) is decorated with large, distinct tan lenticels.

Beneath the blush the spring green peel has a silvery sheen, and the whole thing is satin glossy.

These smell sweet and a little grassy.

Crunch time: Haralson has fine-grained light-yellow flesh that is reasonably crisp. Mine is sweet and a little tangy, with a chewy persistent peel. A decent dollop of tart provides balance.

There's a little spiciness and unripe table grapes; hint of berries. A dash of savory is in the mix, but the overall effect is still light.

A second sample is streakier, blockier, and shows very slight ribbing.

Number two has tart accents some might not like. This acidity is not especially citric.

Haralson is an early success from the Minnesota breeding program circa 1920s, when the emphasis was on creating cold-hardy varieties that would serve northern farmers.

This apple's seed parent is a chance pippin from New England (some say Vermont) called Malinda. Based on DNA evidence, some say the pollen parent is Wealthy.

Haralson is also the parent and grandparent of many subsequent varieties. There's some evidence it's an ancestor of Honeycrisp.

This is a distinguished apple, but not a distinctive one. The tangy, savory notes are however interesting.

Update: I tasted Haralson again in 2022.


  1. I haven't seen Haralson for sale in our area (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) but I remember visiting a U-pick orchard in Minnesota about 15 years ago and sampling several varieties. Haralson was easily my favorite. I've since grafted some young Haralson to grow here and have high hopes based on winter hardiness and that lingering memory. I wonder if I'll recognize the flavor after all those years.

  2. Harlson is fairly popular as a home orchard tree in NW Montana. I was sorry they were sold out when I was shopping trees last week but consoled when I read the backhanded compliment Haralson gave his namesake apple, "It keeps all winter in a house with five boys."

    1. Cool story—thanks, Cathy!

      I don't think it's so bad to eat, though. Not sure what kind of keeper it is.

    2. Living in Southern Illinois, I've never had the opportunity to buy any of these in my local stores to taste. I can't even find any of the trees at local nurseries so I can plant my own. Any suggestions about where to find some Haralson Apple trees from a place that will ship them here? Being as my last name is "Harrelson," you can guess it's close enough for me to want to try them.

    3. @HaarFager: you may have better luck convincing a local nursery to graft some budwood for you. Or, do it yourself if you are feeling lucky.

      Your local agricultural extension service may be able to advise you.

      In any case, good luck!

  3. Here in Minnesota this is the classic 'apple pie' apple. It's main use is baking rather than eating out-of-hand.

    1. Thanks, Wally. Baking is not a dimension I measure with any consistency.

      I still think it's pretty good for eating out of hand.


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