Video: Road Trip To SweeTango
Take a behind-the-scenes peek at SweeTango with Dennis Courtier, owner of Pepin Heights Orchards in Lake City, Minn.
Courtier proudly shows off his orchards on a bluff overlooking Lake Pepin and describes the care that goes into growing and packing SweeTango apples.
It’s been quite a journey for SweeTango, which is a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties. Developed at the University of Minnesota, SweeTango is the brand name for the fruit of the Minneiska tree.
Courtier describes how Next Big Thing, A Growers Cooperative, is managing the rollout of SweeTango in a way that ensures top quality. The cooperative is a group of orchards growing SweeTango and bringing the apples to market.
The first SweeTango apples reached stores in limited supplies in certain markets in 2009. This year, consumers nationwide will be able to enjoy SweeTango, which has won rave reviews from apples lovers. Those on the lookout for SweeTango can check our Facebook page for the latest information on availability.
The video shows the great pains Pepin Heights Orchards takes in preparing SweeTango apples for shipment. From the cushioned air shocks on the big rigs to the soft brushes that move apples along the packing machines, Pepin and other packers do all they can to keep SweeTangos in perfect condition on their journey from orchard to your hand.
You’ll see that workers don’t just dump the apples onto a conveyor belt. Instead, they place a bin full of apples in water and let them gently float into a processing machine.
People and sophisticated machines work together to make sure the best SweeTango apples get packed into boxes. All the apples get a bath before workers screen the fruit for visible defects, pulling those with problems.
Then the apples go through a machine that weighs each apple and measures its sugar content. Another machine uses infrared light to look for internal defects.
Apples that pass muster get routed into a moving line of single cups. Amazingly, a computer tracks the properties of each apple. The conveyor delivers apples of similar characteristics to box packers along the line.
Plenty of hard work goes into getting SweeTango apples from the orchard to the store.