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Keepsake apples are a small to medium-sized varietal, averaging 5 to 7 centimeters in diameter, and have an irregularly shaped, ovate, conic, to flattened appearance with visible ribbing. The apple's stems are dark brown, short, and stalky, and the skin is thick, smooth, taut, and firm. The skin also has a yellow-green base, almost entirely covered in muted red blush and striping, and exhibits rough patches of brown-green russet with white lenticels scattered across the surface. Underneath the skin, the pale-yellow flesh is dense, hard, aqueous, and fine-grained with a crunchy consistency. The flesh also encases a central fibrous core filled with tear-drop-shaped, black-brown seeds. Keepsake apples release a robust floral aroma featuring prominent notes of pineapple and rose petals. It is also said the apple's scent will become its strongest approximately six weeks after being harvested and kept in storage. Keepsake apples are consumed fresh or cooked when ripe and have a sweet, nutty, and spice-filled flavor with sugar cane and molasses nuances. The variety is typically stored for 1 to 2 months after harvest to develop a more well-rounded, mellow, and sweet taste.
Keepsake apples are harvested in the mid-fall and can be stored through the late spring. In the United States, the apples are primarily picked in October and reach their peak flavor in storage in January or February.
Keepsake apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are an American variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The late-season cultivar was developed in the late 20th century through the University of Minnesota and was a variety released through their famed breeding program. Keepsake apples are named for their extended storage capabilities, lasting over six months, and growers favor the variety for its disease resistance, large crops, and quality flavor. Since their release, Keepsake apples have never become a widespread commercial cultivar due to their irregular shape and variable appearance. Many apple enthusiasts reference the variety as being homely, unattractive, or unfit for retail sale compared to the round, bright red, and glistening cultivars commonly found in markets. Despite their aesthetic reputation, Keepsake apples are revered as a novelty for fresh eating and cooking. They are also chosen for home gardens for their hardiness, disease and pest tolerance, and extended storage capabilities. Keepsake apples are most well-known for being selected as one of the parent varieties of the internationally famous Honeycrisp apple. The variety was selected as a parent cultivar for its distinctly sweet and spice-filled flavoring.
Keepsake apples are a source of potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, vitamin C to boost the immune system, and calcium to build strong bones and teeth. The variety also provides magnesium to control optimal nerve functioning, vitamin E to reduce inflammation, vitamin A to maintain organ health, and other nutrients, including copper, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. The apple's red skin indicates the presence of anthocyanins, naturally occurring pigments that have antioxidant-like properties to protect the cells against the damage caused by free radicals.
Keepsake apples have a sweet and nutty taste suited for fresh and cooked preparations. The variety can be consumed straight out of hand or sliced and served on charcuterie boards, mixed into fruit medleys, or tossed into green salads. The apple's flesh does not brown quickly when exposed to air, allowing it to be used in appetizers, sandwiches, and other fresh dishes. Keepsake apples also contribute a complex flavoring to ciders and can be occasionally added to smoothies. In addition to raw preparations, Keepsake apples are popularly baked into crisps, crumbles, strudles, cakes, pies, and muffins. The apples can also be wrapped in puff pastry and baked whole, retaining their shape, or the flesh can be sauteed in caramelized butter, brown sugar, and spices as a decadent dish. Beyond desserts, Keepsake apples are commonly simmered into jellies, jams, and preserves throughout the midwestern United States as a sweet condiment. Keepsake apples pair well with vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, nuts including pecans, almonds, and pistachios, and other fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, pears, and peaches. Whole, unwashed Keepsake apples will last for 4 to 6 months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark location such as a cellar or refrigerator. The variety is known for its extended storage properties and will become sweeter with time.
Keepsake apples were not identified as an official parent of the Honeycrisp apple until 2005. Honeycrisp apples were selected from a seedling block at the University of Minnesota's Agricultural Experiment Station in Carver County near Excelsior in 1974 and were labeled as MN 1711 before they were given their marketing name of Honeycrisp. After its selection, the original Honeycrisp tree was lost in 1977 due to injury from winter conditions, leaving the parent varieties of the cultivar to be unknown. For many years, Honeycrisp apples were thought to have been created from a cross between Honeygold and Macoun, as listed on the variety's original patent. In 2005, genetic fingerprinting was used to decode Honeycrisp's DNA, revealing that the parent varieties were actually Keepsake and MN 1627, a variety created from the crossing of Golden Delicious apples and Duchess of Oldenburg. This finding led to a slight resurgence in attention surrounding Keepsake apples. Keepsake apples are 1 of 28 apple varieties that the University of Minnesota has released since the program's establishment in 1878.
Keepsake apples were developed at the University of Minnesota in the late 20th century. The variety was created within the University's apple breeding program by breeder W.H. Alderman at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station near Excelsior, Minnesota. Keepsake apples were bred in 1936 from a cross between Northern Spy apples and MN 447 apples, also known as Frostbite™, and the variety was released to commercial markets in 1978. Since their release, Keepsake apples have never achieved widespread success due to their irregular appearance. The variety is primarily connected to Honeycrisp apples and is reserved for novelty cultivation among home gardeners and specialty growers. When in season, Keepsake apples are offered on a small scale directly through growers and local markets in the United States.
Recipes that include Keepsake Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Chisel & Fork||Apple Guacamole|
|Eating Bird Food||Raw Apple Pie Filling with Dates|