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Sweetland Orchard, located about 45 minutes south of downtown Minneapolis, is not a U-pick operation. Its wide array of apples — Prairie Spy, Firecracker, Keepsake, Pristine and several dozen other varieties bearing similarly romantic names — are primarily channeled into the hard ciders that owners Mike and Gretchen Perbix produce on the premises.

When early autumn rolls around, and visitors begin to flock to this picturesque acreage (which doubles as an ideal picnic destination), the couple also reserve some of their refreshingly tart cider to create another top-quality product: apple cider doughnuts.

Most of the apples harvested at south-of-the-metro Sweetland Orchard are pressed into service as ciders.
Most of the apples harvested at south-of-the-metro Sweetland Orchard are pressed into service as ciders.

Nicole Hvidsten, Star Tribune

Their made-from-scratch recipe, which wisely uses lard as the frying agent, yields irresistible cake doughnuts that hum with apple and nutmeg undertones. These deep-fried beauties are tender on the inside and ever-so-slightly crunchy on the outside, and glisten with a fragrant cinnamon-sugar coating. Each bite pretty much radiates uncomplicated goodness.

"Minnesota doesn't have the cider doughnut culture that, say, Michigan has," said Gretchen Perbix. "But with Minnesota's strong apple culture, and love of apples, why not make cider doughnuts a thing here?"

Sweetland Orchard, 26205 Fairlawn Av., Webster, 651-252-4337, sweetlandorchard.com