Cherry Time in Michigan

July 11, 2014

Ready to Pick

Ready to Pick, photo by Bruce

While much of the state is still waiting on cherries to ripen, the National Cherry Festival is heading into the final weekend for their 88th annual event. Their history page says (in part):

French colonists from Normandy brought pits that they planted along the Saint Lawrence River and on down into the Great Lakes area. Cherry trees were part of the gardens of French settlers as they established such cities as Detroit, Vincennes, and other midwestern settlements.

Modern day cherry production began in the mid-1800s. Peter Dougherty was a Presbyterian missionary living in northern Michigan. In 1852, he planted cherry trees on Old Mission Peninsula (near Traverse City, Michigan). Much to the surprise of the other farmers and Indians who lived in the area, Dougherty’s cherry trees flourished and soon other residents of the area planted trees. The area proved to be ideal for growing cherries because Lake Michigan tempers Arctic winds in winter and cools the orchards in summer.

The first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan were planted in 1893 on Ridgewood Farm near the site of Dougherty’s original plantings. By the early 1900s, the tart cherry industry was firmly established in the state with orchards not only in the Traverse City area, but all along Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor to Elk Rapids. Soon production surpassed other major crops. The first cherry processing facility, Traverse City Canning Company, was built just south of Traverse City, and the ruby-red fruit was soon shipped to Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee.

…The most famous sweet cherry variety is the Bing cherry; this cherry variety got its name from one of Lewelling’s Chinese workmen. Another sweet cherry variety is the Lambert, which also got its start on Lewelling Farms. The Rainier cherry, a light sweet variety, originated from the cross breeding of the Bing and Van varieties by Dr. Harold W. Fogle at the Washington State University Research Station in Prosser, Washington. The Bing, Lambert and Rainier varieties together account for more than 95 percent of the Northwest sweet cherry production.

Today, the U. S. cherry industry produces more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year. Much of the cherry production is concentrated in Michigan and the Northwest. Michigan grows about 75 percent of the tart cherry crop. Oregon and Washington harvest about 60 percent of the sweet cherry crop. Other states with commercial cherry crops are Utah, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Read on for more, and if you want to read about how some cherry farmers think that Federal cherry policy is leaving dollars in the orchards, head over to this Bridge Magazine article on how USDA cherry policy impacts Michigan cherry farmers.

Bruce photographed these beauties last week at at Lemon Creek Winery near Baroda. View his pic background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

More cherries and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Strawberry Moon by kevins stuff

The Clark Kent Moon of June, photo by Kevin

June’s full moon takes place this Friday, the 13th. That convergence last happened in 2000, and you superstitious folks can breathe easy as it won’t happen again until 2049.

Regarding the June moon’s delicious name, the Farmer’s Almanac says:

The month of June’s full Moon’s name is the Full Strawberry Moon. June’s Full Strawberry Moon got its name because the Algonquin tribes knew it as a signal to gather ripening fruit.

It was often known as the Full Rose Moon in Europe (where strawberries aren’t native).

I checked and the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market is reporting they have strawberries, so I assume the rest of the state will soon follow suit.

View Kevin’s photo bigger and view lots more in his The Moon slideshow.

Bees & Blossoms

May 30, 2014

Bees and Blossoms by 45th parallel exposure

Blossoms & Bees, photo by Lee Lynn Awe

View Lee Lynn’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her slideshow.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

The White Morels are just starting. Taken in the City Limits of Boyne City, Michigan, along with some others I might add.

The White Morels are just starting. Taken in the City Limits of Boyne City, Michigan, along with some others I might add., photo by Rick Wolanin

I’ve started to get reports of morels trickling in from here in Traverse City and other locations in the state. While we’re a ways from full-on morel madness, it’s a good time to start getting excited about the return of this once-a-year woodland delicacy.

Over 7 years, Michigan in Pictures has accumulated a lot of morel features – here are some favorites along with a couple from other sites:

Rick lives in Boyne City, one of Michigan’s morel epicenters. View his photo bigger and check out more of his great morel photos!

Coincidentally enough, I just found out that Ken will be doing the next Glen Arbor Art Association Talk About Art this Thursday, April 10, 7:30 p.m. at the GAAA in Glen Arbor.

Spring Speak ... violet

Spring Speak … violet, photo by Ken Scott

Today’s post comes via eatdrinkTCMichigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the U.S. and that diversity doesn’t stop at the market! Our woods are alive with tasty and nutritious food if you know where to look. In our Wild Food Wednesdays we’ll tip you off to seasonal goodies and give you a recipe or two so you can enjoy the meal as much as the hike to find it!

In many years, we will have seen Viola sororia (Common blue violet) in the woods and often in our lawns by now. Violets can be found in a variety of soil conditions, from moist and even swampy deciduous forests to drier forests (though not usually near pines). The flowers and young leaves are delicious! The Culinary Violet page at the American Violet Society says (in part):

Both the flowers and leaves in fresh and dried forms have been standard fare in Europe and other areas in the world since before the 14th century. Fresh flowers are most often used for garnishing and crystallizing, The pungent perfume of some varieties of v.odorata adds inimitable sweetness to desserts, fruit salads and teas while the mild pea flavor of v.tricolor and most other viola combines equally well with sweet or savory foods, like grilled meats and steamed vegetables. The heart-shaped leaves of the v. odorata provide a free source of greens throughout a long growing season. They add texture to green salads when young and tender. Later in the season, slightly tougher, older leaves are cooked with other potted herbs and greens in soups, stews and stir-frys.

Violets aren’t just another pretty face. They are loaded with phytochemicals and medicinal constituents that have been used in the treatment of numerous health problems from the common cold to cancer. The late Euell Gibbons even referred to them as “nature’s vitamin pill (1).” A 1/2 cup serving of leaves can provide as much vitamin C as three oranges.

You can see some more photos and a county distribution at the Herbarium of the University of Michigan and get a lot more, including recipes, from eatdrinkTC!

Ken took this shot in March of 2012. See it on Flickr and see more in his Flowers slideshow!

More flowers and more food on Michigan in Pictures!

Maple Syrup Time!

March 18, 2014

It takes a while ~ 3 of 5

It takes a while ~ 3 of 5, photo by Trish P. – K1000 Gal

I just wrapped up a post about making maple syrup over on eatdrinkTC that you might enjoy. Michigan is 6th in the nation in the production of maple syrup and with a little bit of work and a small investment, you can make it yourself!

One of the photographers we featured is Trish, who has several more from March of 2011. View her photo bigger and see more in her sap slideshow!

More maple syrup on Michigan in Pictures!

Cooking with Chef Myles

February 21, 2014

Chef Myles Anton of Trattoria Stella

Chef Myles Anton at The Box, photo by Lisa Flaska Erickson

In addition to Michigan in Pictures and building websites & marketing campaigns, my partner Laura & I produce an online publication called eatdrinkTC that profiles Traverse City’s dynamic culinary scene. We feature a lot of the chefs and culinary artisans who make it all happen and engage people in helping to promote all the good things going on.

One way we do that is with our monthly #eatdrinkTC Photo Contest that offers a prize every month for the top photo. This month’s  prize is two 3-course dinners at the popular The Cooks’ House, so if your photographic arsenal has some pics from Traverse City or the surrounding area that fit the bill, consider entering.

The photo shows Myles Anton, chef at Trattoria Stella. Myles and Chef Brian Polcyn of Forest Grill in Birmingham were announced as semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Great Lakes this week. It’s one of the top honors in chefdom – hats off to both for representing the Mitten!

Lisa was lucky enough to attend a cooking class with chef Myles at The Box last month. It was titled simply “The Pig” and Myles showed the class how to break down half a pig and how to cut, prepare and EAT the many cuts! (we have a full cooking class calendar if you’re interested)

 

Swirling Soup

December 11, 2013

amor_comida-Soup

Swirling Soup, photo by amor_comida

The photo above won the first photo contest on our new eatdrinkTC website. If you’re in the Traverse City area and enjoy snapping & sharing shots of food & drink, click that link for all the details on the current contest.

Michelle says that she heads to the farmers market every weekend to grab fresh veggies. On the weekend she took the winning photo, she was inspired by sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes), created two different soups (Sunchoke Potato and Jalapeno Kale & Spinach) and swirled them together to create this beautiful bowl of deliciousness. I’ve included the recipes below!

View her photo bigger and see many more on her Instagram.

Read the rest of this entry »

Michigan's Winter Sprinkles

Michigan’s Winter Sprinkles, photo by LadyDragonflyCC

The weekend outlook is for snow with a chance of sprinkles!

Check Christine’s photo out bigger and see more in her cookie slideshow.

PS: In case you’re wondering, she does have a UP cookie cutter too!

Red McIntosh apples

Red McIntosh apples, photo by vostok71

The Detroit Free Press writes that Michigan apples are back – and in a big way.

This year’s harvest could be one of the largest Michigan has ever seen, the Michigan Apple Committee said Friday after the U.S. Apple Association released its estimate for Michigan’s 2013 apple crop. The 30-million-bushel projection was welcome news after last year’s wacky spring weather devastated 90% of the overall apple crop, which yielded just 2.7 million bushels. The state averages about 20 million bushels a year, the committee said.

“Our growers, packers and shippers are already moving Michigan apples into the marketplace and are thrilled with the estimates for this year’s crop,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, who was in attendance at the USApple announcement in Chicago. “There’s a lot of buzz around the estimate here in Chicago and in our state.”

The Apple Committee said a crop like this year’s could pump as much as $900 million into the state’s economy, and industry experts say perfect weather conditions are to thank.

Good news for everyone who was left cider-less and apple-less last fall! Read on at the Freep and get lots more about Michigan’s largest fruit crop from the Michigan Apple Committee or their Facebook page.

Last year I used a photo Sergei took of the Wolf River apple (Michigan’s largest) on a post about our smallest crop ever, so it’s fitting to return to celebrate! Check his photo out background bigtacular and see more in his apple slideshow.

More apples on Michigan in Pictures.

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