Zestar Apple

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Malus x. domestica 'Zestar!'
Hybrid parentage 'State Fair' & 'MN 1691'
Cultivar 'Zestar!'
Origin University of Minnesota, 1999

The 'Zestar' apple (known in the UK as the 'Flavar') is an apple cultivar released in 1998; It was developed by the horticulturalists at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Horticultural Resource Center, at the University of Minnesota.[1] The apple is known for its earlier ripening season, ripening in late August–September marking an earlier start to the apple growing season in Minnesota.[2] The Zestar trees are subject to cold climate testing in laboratories to ensure that the fruit is capable of growing in northern apple growing climates [3] Breeders for the Zestar apple have been working at developing apples for almost 100 years, since breeding attempts began in 1878, and since have developed 24 new varieties of apples- Haralson, Fireside, Honeygold, Regent, Sweet 16, Honeycrisp, and SnowSweet. Zestar is the product of a hybridization of State Fair x MN 1691 [4] When initial efforts were made, the Haralson took approximately 15 years to create, and was created in 1923. In 1943, the next breed of apple, the Fireside was developed, and shortly after in 1978 the Sweet Sixteen became available to the market. The other brands, Regent, Honeygold, Sweet 16, Honeycrisp and many others were developed at the university and are now popular in the Midwest, and are gaining international recognition [5] Researchers begin by selecting trees to host or ‘parent’ the apples. These parent trees are selected based on 25 distinct characteristics and include- size, colour, and appearance. The breeders germinate the plant seeds from the parent trees, and allow for five-to-seven years of growth before the new trees start producing fruit.[6] Breeders have stated that the apples prior to the discovery of Zestar have been weak, and subpar to the apple. Prior apples have been described as soft, with poor shelf life, and varying degrees of flavour.[7] The apples tend to be round with an average diameter of three inches, and are crispy and light to the taste The apples are almost completely red, with 60% of the fruit, or any other surface that is exposed to sunlight will turn a deep red.[8] Other sides of the fruit can remain a yellow creamy shade. The apples may also become red, a deep orange, or a yellow green shade To taste, the apples are sweet and tangy with accents of brown sugar, and are known for their unique flavour The apples are 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.[9] Along with their seasonality, the apples are praised for their shelf life and can be stored up for two months with or without refrigeration. Kept at room temperature, the apples flavours are known to intensify.[10] Although it is not restricted to, Zestar apples are best used in baking dishes, such as apple or fruit pies, apple danishes, cakes, or tartes.[11] The apple can be eaten as is, alone or can be eaten with other caramel or peanut butter sauces.[12] Known for its firmness the apple can be used as a candied apple.[13] Zestar is known to have increased the market availability for apples in the Midwest [14] The 'Zestar' is protected under the US Plant Patent #97120.[15]


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