|Malus x. domestica 'Zestar!'|
|Hybrid parentage||'State Fair' & 'MN 1691'|
|Origin||University of Minnesota, 1999|
The Zestar! apple is an apple cultivar released in 1999. It was developed by the horticulturalists at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Horticultural Resource Center, at the University of Minnesota.
The Zestar! apple is known for its earlier ripening season, ripening in late August through September, marking an earlier start to the apple growing season in Minnesota. The Zestar! trees are subject to cold climate testing in laboratories to ensure that the fruit is capable of growing in northern climates.  Breeders of the Zestar! apple have been working at developing apples since breeding attempts began in 1878, and have developed at least 24 new varieties of apples, including the Haralson, Fireside, Honeygold, Regent, Sweet 16, Honeycrisp, and SnowSweet varieties. Zestar! is the product of a hybridization of State Fair x MN 1691.  Prior to the development of Zestar!, breeders considered early-ripening apples to be weak and subpar, describing them as soft, having poor shelf life, and having varying degrees of flavor.
The Zestar! apple tends to be round with an average diameter of three inches, and tastes crispy and light. About 60-80% of the apple's skin turns a deep red hue as a result of exposure to sunlight during maturation, the remaining areas of the skin remaining a yellow or greenish color.  The apple tastes sweet and tangy, with accents of brown sugar, and is known for its unique flavor. The apple is best used for fresh eating, and for use in a variety of baked goods, sauces, desserts, and salads. The fruit can be well paired with foods such as walnuts, cinnamon, cheddar cheeses, and brown sugar. The apple is praised for its shelf life and can be stored up for two months with or without refrigeration. The apple's flavors are known to intensify when kept at room temperature.
- University of Minnesota apple licensing
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