Finally, an early season apple with a crisp, juicy texture, and an exciting zesty flavor with a hint of brown sugar!

For generations, the University of Minnesota has taken great pride in developing high quality apples. Zestar!® was introduced in 1999 from a hybridization of State Fair x MN 1691. We're confident that you will be pleased with this flavorful, crisp apple.

Its outstanding texture, flavor and storage life are sure to make Zestar!® an early-season winner.


  • Great crisp taste - The most outstanding feature of a Zestar!® apple is its sprightly sweet-tart taste with a hint of brown sugar. And, unlike other early season apples that are often soft or mealy, Zestar!® is juicy with a light, crisp texture. Just one bite, and you will savor the zesty flavor and crunch.
  • Ripens early - Growers and apple lovers will delight in this tasty apple that ripens so early in the season. Under Minnesota growing conditions, Zestar!® fruit ripen in late August to early September, about the same time as Paula Red®. It's the perfect way to start the apple season on a good note.
  • Exceptional extended storage life - Zestar!® apples maintain their great taste and crunch for 2 months in refrigeration. For consumers, this means an apple that will give them a zesty crunch after hours in a lunchbox, days in a fruit bowl, or even weeks in a refrigerator.
  • Good eye appeal - Zestar!® apples are nice and round, with an average diameter of approximately 3 inches. Their color is 60-85 percent red depending on exposure to the sun. Where the sun shines on the fruit, a bright rosy-red blush develops. Shaded areas are often creamy yellow. One Minnesota grower, who usually sees nice red color on at least half of each fruit, pointed out, "My customers don't care what it looks like, once it passes their lips!"
  • Cold hardy - University of Minnesota research scientists have tested Zestar!® trees through harsh Minnesota winters as well as severe cold conditions created in laboratory freezers to determine that Zestar!® has the hardiness to perform in northern apple-growing regions.

Expanding availability

This fine variety is patented (Minnewashta, USPP 11,367) and presented as the trademarked Zestar!® apple. Nurseries licensed to propagate Zestar!® trees have reported increasing sales to orchards. Orchards who have been growing Zestar!® are selling out their stock. We expect availability and demand of Zestar!® to continue to increase, not only because it is a great apple, but also because the U of M intends to help promote this apple as greater supplies become available. Be sure you crunch into the potential success of Zestar®!



  • State Fair x MN 1691, U of M, 1999


  • Fruit size: 3-inch average (7.6 cm)
  • Fruit color: 60 to 85% red
  • Flavor: Most outstanding feature! Excellent sweet-tart balance with a brown sugar overtone
  • Texture: Light, crisp and juicy
  • Storage life: 2 months
  • Culinary use: Excellent for fresh eating and cooking


  • Region: Grows best in northern U.S., Canada and areas with relatively cooler climate
  • Hardiness zones: 4b, 4a, 3b, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map
  • Growth habit: Upright to spreading
  • Vigor: High in early years, but attains a spur-type habit and moderate vigor as it matures
  • Precocity: Good on dwarf rootstocks
  • Bloom: Very early
  • Ripening season: EarlyFruit adherence: Good. Usually harvested in 2 pickings.

Disease resistance

  • Scab: Susceptible
  • Fire blight: Moderate resistance

Zestar!® (Minnewashta variety) is a registered trademark owned by the Regents of the University of Minnesota.

Expand all

USA licensed nurseries

Canada licensed nurseries