What’s better than fall harvest apples? Apple cider donuts, hot out of the fryer and dusted in sugar.
Some of the best ones we’ve eaten are from Fireside Orchard & Gardens in Northfield, about 40 minutes south of the Twin Cities. The 45-year-old, family-run orchard also bakes pies and presses its own cider. As Charlie Berens says, “Honest to Pete, if you’re not getting your cider out of a milk jug, I’m questioning your life decisions.”
U-pick is not available this season because of COVID-19, but you can find a variety of pumpkins, decorative gourds, and apples for sale in Fireside’s on-site store. Current 🍎 offerings include Early Blush, Zestar!, SweeTango, Honeycrisp, Haralson, Regent, Sweet Sixteen, Sweet RiverBelle, MacIntosh, and Chestnut Crab. The Harvey family is particularly proud of its Honeycrisps this year, declaring it their “finest crop ever” and describing the flavor as “watermelon crisp with sweet, mild, clover honey flavoring.” Swoooon.
While you’re out and about, take a minute to explore the grounds, which include rose, perennial, and water gardens, plus a picturesque gazebo, landscaped fish pond, and two antique tractors. There’s a sprawling lawn for picnicking, if you feel so inclined, so pack a lunch or grab takeout from Russell’s Traveling Kitchen, which is often parked outside Imminent Brewing in Northfield. Their pho French dip sandwich and deep-fried Brussels sprouts are outta this world.
FYI, you can always shop for your apples online and arrange no-contact curbside pick-up outside the orchard, or grab a bag — along with cider, pies, and caramel dip — at the Fireside stall (No. 225-227) at the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
Fireside Orchard & Gardens
2225 Lonsdale Blvd. E. (Highway 19), Northfield, MN; 507-663-1376.