All about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and orchards where they are grown

Zestar!® apple

Zestar! is a early season apple that comes from the University of Minnesota breeding program (trademarked, USPP#11367).  It is a good solid early apple, with a sweet-tart taste and a hint of brown sugar flavoring.  The apple is medium in size, round, with red cover over 60-75% of the skin depending on sun exposure, and yellow undercolor.  The flesh is white with a crisp texture, and while a nice texture for cooking the apple does tend to brown fairly quickly.

For an early season apple the taste is very good, and it also has a good shelf-life of a couple months.  It is one of the parents of the new popular US variety, Sweetango.

Zestar! was developed for cold-hardiness, and performs best in cool climates. It is hardy down to zone 4.

Zestar! identification photos

  • Copyright: Orange Pippin

  • Zestar!
    Copyright: Orange Pippin

  • Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota
    Copyright: Orange Pippin

Visitor reviews

  • 10 Sep 2018  Keith H. Ashline,  NY, United States
    Tried my first ever Zestar! today and what a treat it was. The flavor was super sweet and with just a hint of tart mixed in. Flesh was more flavorful then I was expecting with this apple. I planted 5 of these this past spring on B9 and I'm really excited about trying one fresh off the tree in the next couple of years. Highly recommend this apple.
  • 06 Nov 2016  Christopher Herbst,  CA / HUMBOLDT COUNTY, United States
    This is one of my favorite early apples I'm growing in my trial orchard in coastal NW California. Sweet and rich flavored with nice crunch and texture.
  • 29 Aug 2016  Guy Maddox,  ILLINOIS, United States
    Bought at Edward's Apple Orchard Northern Illinois. Excellent Taste with sharp sweet taste. Highly recommend.
  • 09 Sep 2015  Marsha Bailey,  ONTARIO, Canada
    I first purchased zestars at a local farmers' market last year and loved them. This year's apples are even better. Lots of tartness with a touch of brown sugar and a good crunch. I eat alot of apples and this year's zestars are amongst my favourites.
  • 02 Sep 2014  Renate s,  NEW JERSEY, United States
    Zestar is tart/sweet juicy. The crisp but not hard texture is just perfect. Purchased these in Delaware County NY 08/31/14. One of the first early apples available at the co-op. Wonderful.
  • 21 Oct 2013  Brent,  MN, United States
    Kurt - If you just bought it and ate it (close to the date of your review), the fruit was likely picked upwards of 6 weeks ago. The mealiness you experienced was probably a result of bad shipping or storage. A properly stored Zestar will never be mealy. Zestar doesn't have the highest flavor intensity, but it should have been tart with a good sweetness.
  • 15 Oct 2013  Kurt,  MN, United States
    Wow from the comments I've been reading, Byerly's must have had them mislabeled. But, I don't think so. It was a pretty apple from the outside, one was mealy, lacked flavor...I wouldn't even think of cooking with them. I think the UofM needs to go back to the drawing board!
  • 27 Sep 2013  Rita,  MINNESOTA, United States
    I bet this apple will be great for use in baking were you want an apple that is crisp and tart, yet still has a sweetness to it. No hint of the brown sugar taste that was in the describtion, however reminds me of the candy "Sweet-Tarts".
  • 11 Sep 2012  Greg,  WI, United States
    Purchased these recently (9/6/12) , hadn't seen them before. These are EXCEPTIONAL! Sweet & tart, juicy, crisp...what more could one want in an apple?
  • 08 Sep 2012  Anna,  VA, United States
    I usually won't eat apples from the grocery store (preferring "real" apples from the fruit stand), but Zestar made the cut. It's tart and nearly as full-bodied in flavor as Winesap, but with a crispness that keeps my husband happy. Top notch!
  • 03 Sep 2012  Isaiah,  OREGON, United States
    Very fragrant, sweet-tangy, crisp, light apple with floral tones. I also did not detect brown sugar taste, but it did remind me of some kind of candy - not sure what kind!
  • 27 Aug 2012  Tracy,  VERMONT, United States
    We just discovered this apple at our local orchard. We love the taste, sweet yet with some tartness. I am a diehard Cortland fan, but Zestar will definately be my early season apple.
  • 30 Sep 2011  David M. Taylor,  WI, United States
    This is one of the very best newer apples out there. Very crunchy and juicy, and much more smackingly tart than sweet, with just a very pleasant appley flavor. (I also do NOT detect any "brown sugar" flavor at all.) I would guess this should be a great apple for cooking and cider making as well as fresh eating -- very versatile! Can't wait to make some cider of this one!!
  • 19 Sep 2011  Matt,  WISCONSIN, United States
    "Zest" is the word. If you like an apple to open your eyes and slap your taste buds than this is the apple for you. It is crisp with sweetness to balance the zing. Keeps well for an early apple.
  • 31 Aug 2011  Zman,  MA, United States
    A very tasty apple, a very nice sweet-tart combo. Supposedly it tastes of brown sugar, but I do not detect that. It is crisp and the skin is delicious as well as the fruit. Will definetly buy it again.

Tree register

United States


Spring blossom records for this variety

2019 season

  • 19th May  2019  - tree owned by Wynne in River Falls, United States

2016 season

  • May  2016  - tree owned by Mat in , United States
  • 10th April  2016  - tree owned by Gil in Snohomish, United States

2015 season

  • May  2015  - tree owned by JSchreiber in West Concord, United States

2014 season

  • 20th May  2014  - tree owned by Mike in Westfield, United States
  • 16th May  2014  - tree owned by Thomas in Cottage Grove, United States
  • 16th May  2014  - tree owned by Brenda in Marion, United States
  • 20th April  2014  - tree owned by Gil in Snohomish, United States

2013 season

  • 15th May  2013  - tree owned by Mike in Westfield, United States
  • May  2013  - tree owned by Brenda in Marion, United States

2012 season

  • 18th April  2012  - tree owned by Chuck in Worthington, United States

Record your blossom dates in our Fruit Tree Register - more >>.

Harvest records for this variety

2018 season

  • 2nd week August  2018  - tree owned by Brooke in Madelia, United States

2017 season

  • 4th week August  2017  - tree owned by Carolyn in Franksville, United States

2016 season

  • 1st week September  2016  - tree owned by JSchreiber in West Concord, United States
  • 4th week July  2016  - tree owned by Gil in Snohomish, United States

2015 season

  • 4th week August  2015  - tree owned by JSchreiber in West Concord, United States
  • July  2015  - tree owned by Roger in Madison Heights, United States

2014 season

  • 2nd week August  2014  - tree owned by Brenda in Marion, United States
  • 2nd week August  2014  - tree owned by Kacie in Plain City, United States
  • 3rd week July  2014  - tree owned by Gil in Snohomish, United States

2013 season

  • 3rd week August  2013  - tree owned by Brenda in Marion, United States


  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: State Fair x MN 1691
  • Originates from: Minnesota, United States
  • Introduced: 1999
  • Developed by: University of Minnesota
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1992


  • Fruit colour: Red / Green 60-85% red over green base


  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Cooking
  • Flavour quality: Good
  • Flavour style: Sweet/Sharp
  • Harvest period: Early season
  • Use / keeping: 1-2 months


  • Cropping: Good
  • Flowering period: Very early season
  • Flowering group: 1
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Vigour: Slightly large
  • Precocity: Precocious
  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer


  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
  • Climate suitability: Tolerates cold winters

Also known as

  • Minnewashta

Parents and other ancestors of this variety

Offspring of this variety


  • Scab  - Very susceptible
  • Mildew  - Some resistance
  • Fireblight  - Some resistance
  • Cedar apple rust  - Some resistance

Where to buy fresh fruit

United States


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