Keepsake is one of those great apples that has slipped through the production cracks of most orchards. But with a renewed interest in heirloom varieties (and especially great tasting apples), interest in the Keepsake has surfaced in the past few years. The Keepsake is an off-shoot of Malinda and Northern Spy apples (not sure which is the Mom or which is the Dad), was developed by the University of Minnesota and introduced commercially in 1979 . It is very hard and crisp with yellow flesh and an exotic sweet, spicy flavor. Its good for fresh eating and cooking and will store for 6 months under good conditions (cool, low light, moderate humidity. The Keepsake generally ripens in late September, early October, but this year at Red Jacket Orchards will become ready in the 3rd week of September (approx. Sept 22). Over the past few years, records and public releases from the University of Minnesota have identified the parentage of the famous Honeycrisp as a cross between ‘Macoun’ and ‘Honeygold’. But, in an interesting twist of horticultural genealogy, recently completed DNA testing has determined that neither Macoun nor Honeygold are parents of Honeycrisp and that for certain Keepsake is one of Honeycrisp’s parents. That’s an answer to the question no one was asking. But after experiencing Keepsake apples for the past few years, and especially this year, practically anyone can understand how Keepsake is one of Honeycrisp’s parents. Keepsake is a fabulous apple. Red Jacket Orchard’s planted several acres of Keepsake a few years ago as part of an heirloom apple program that includes Golden Russet, Margill, Baldwin, Chestnut Crab, and New York City’s apple the Newtown Pippin. Baldwin was one of the most important apple varieties in New York state during the first half of the 20th century. And Newtown Pippin holds one of the most important places in New York state’s horticultural history, since it was among the first cultivated apple varieties in the state. Keepsake, though of Minnesota, has easily earned a place among these stalwarts of pomological pugilism, and will do the same in hearts and mouths of many a New Yorker. Enjoy!
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