MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — ‘Tis the season for picking, peeling, and pies. Its apple time in Minnesota and you may be thinking about baking up a sweet recipe.

The Carlson Apple Orchard in Winsted, Minn. has a few family baking secrets they say have been their recipe for success.

When its lunch time in the fall at the Carlson Orchard, there’s not a seat open in the place. Their $0.99 apple pie helps bring customers in, and the taste brings them back.

The Carlson’s never intended on selling pies when they started their orchard in the 80s, but when they tried to sell the apples, their customers kept asking for pies.

Joe and Colleen thought they’d give it a shot.

“We kind of grew into it,” said Colleen Carlson.

She came up with her own recipe after a lot of trying and tasting — a mix of Haralson, a few pieces of Honey Crisp, shortening, no butter, and a little less sugar to get the real flavor of the apples.

“I think the best pie is when you have a mix of apples,” she said. “Ideally you want a little tart with sweet.”

The first year they sold 100 apple pies.

Now Colleen Carlson and her small crew of bakers make 18,000 apple pies from scratch every fall. That’s 500 a day.

The Carlsons’ dabblings in pie making has turned out to be a lot more fruitful than they imagined.

” So, we gave the customers what they wanted and that helped bring customers out,” said owner Joe Carlson.

“We come here every year with a group of senior citizens because we love this place,” said a customer.

Colleen Carlson said her tips for pie work well for apple crisp, too.

She said a good tip for making caramel apples is to use Haralsons and make sure the apples are at room temperature when you make them. The colder the apple, the harder it will be for the caramel to stick.

Comments (3)
  1. Timmy says:

    I always prefer Cedar Groves Orchard just north of Austin, MN! Tons of Honeycrisp and other species of delicious apples.

  2. MAJ says:

    We are lucky to have so many wonderful orchards in the Metro area. Check Minnesota Grown to find one close to you. I happened to go to Carlsons in 2010 and it is a wonderful place to visit and eat a wonderful meal. Thanks for the tip on making wonderful pies and crisp.

  3. MIL says:

    The pies are the best around and I have tried most of their lunch items and they are all awesome and to top everything off the hospitality is down home.

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