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Falling for Local Apples

September 14, 2020

The following story was written by Heinen’s partner Elaine T. Cicora.

Nutritious, delicious and ever-so-versatile, locally grown apples are a highly anticipated addition to Heinen’s Produce Departments each and every autumn.

Across a season that stretches from late August into mid-November, Heinen’s network of apple growers works diligently to bring the freshest, most flavorful fruits to market, all while continuing to meet Heinen’s stringent quality standards. Since different varieties ripen at different times, customers can be assured of many months of locally grown goodness.

Local Apples in Crate

Working closely with Ohio’s Fruit Growers Marketing Association, Heinen’s sources its apples from a number of local farms, including historic Burnham Orchards in Berlin Heights, Ohio, near Vermilion. Founded in 1815, on land that was part of Connecticut’s Western Reserve, Burnham Orchards is now operated by the family’s sixth generation of growers.

With 200 acres devoted to apple production, the orchard currently grows approximately 28 varieties, including Fuji, Melrose, Empire and the ever-popular Honeycrisp, an outstanding eating apple that bursts with juicy flavor. Still, as part of the Midwest Apple Improvement Association, Burnham Orchards is continually searching for new varieties to satisfy consumer demands.

According to grower Joe Burnham, breeding a new apple is a slow, meticulous process that begins in the spring by collecting the pollen from one “parent” varietal and using it to pollinate the flower of another “parent.” In the fall, the resulting fruit is harvested and the seeds are collected and planted. “From that point, it takes seven more years for the seedling to go through a juvenile process to actually get fruit,” Joe explains. “So it will probably take you eight years to develop a new apple.”

In the meantime, it’s good to know you can savor the locally grown varieties already on Heinen’s shelves. Whether you’re planning a pie, considering a crumble or just looking for a convenient, crunchy snack, here’s a rundown of apple characteristics to help you choose:

  • Empire: A tart apple, great for eating or baking
  • Fuji: A sweet, crisp eating apple
  • Gala: A sweet eating apple that works well in salads
  • Ida Red: A tangy choice for eating or baking
  • Jonathan: A tart apple, great for baking or eating
  • Law Rome: A mildly-flavored baking apple
  • Golden Delicious: A sweet favorite perfect for both eating and baking
  • McIntosh: A tart classic suitable for baking or eating
  • Red Cortland: A tartly-flavored choice for baking or eating
  • Red Delicious: A sweet eating apple that goes well in salads
  • Granny Smith: A tart favorite, great for baking or eating
  • Jonagold: A tangy cross of Golden Delicious and Jonathan, great for eating and baking
  • Honeycrisp: A sweet, reliable crowd pleaser, beloved for eating out of hand
  • Paula Red: A tart apple, ideal for both baking and eating
  • Melrose: A sweet eating apple, also great for baking
  • Mutsu: A tangy fruit that is great for both eating and baking
  • Winesap: A tart eating apple that can also be used in baking
Local Apple on Tree

Here’s a happy thought: Should all of the above still leave you wanting more, Burnham Orchards is now in the process of developing the whimsically named Ludacrisp, a “wonderful, wonderful apple,” with a tropical flavor profile reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum. “In the next few years, we’re looking forward to harvesting some of those,” Joe says.

You can bet we’re looking forward to eating them!

By Elaine Cicora
Elaine T. Cicora is a well-seasoned food writer, restaurant critic and editor whose byline has appeared in publications including Scene, Edible Cleveland, Cleveland Magazine and The New York Times. Her work has been recognized with awards from the James Beard Foundation, the Society for Professional Journalists, the Cleveland Press Club, the Association of Food Journalists and Les Dames d'Escoffier International, who honored her with the MFK Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing. When not growing, cooking, eating or writing about food, Elaine can often be found on her bicycle, trying to pedal away the consequences. Head Shot Credit: Beth Segal Photography

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