December 18, 2012
I know that many of you have been losing sleep because you don’t know the location of the world’s biggest bean elevator. You can rest easy now, because Waymarking.com explains that the largest bean elevator in the world is in Saginaw MI:
As a young man, (Albert L.) Riedel was one of the organizers of the Producers Elevator Company of Port Huron which later grew into the Michigan Bean Company. He was elected secretary of Michigan Bean when it moved its headquarters to Saginaw’s Bearinger Building and he was only 27 when he was named general manager of the company.
…In 1937, Riedel became president of the company as well as general manager and served in that capacity until the firm was sold to the Wickes Corporation in 1955. As president of Michigan Bean, Al Riedel pushed the idea of selling packaged, trademarked beans to the retail market instead of relying on bulk sales.
He was instrumental in making the Jack Rabbit brand of beans known all over the world. And it was while Riedel was president that the famous Bean Bunny neon sign was erected at the top of “the world’s largest bean elevator”.
The Bean Bunny, now proudly relit, has become one of Saginaw’s most beloved symbols. During World War II, too old for active service, Riedel volunteered as a dollar-a-year-man and served as a consultant attached to the Quartermaster Corp. He revamped purchasing and shipping programs and designed and developed waterproof bags for shipping food overseas.
More from Saginaw on Michigan in Pictures.
November 22, 2012
The story of Thanksgiving is one of our country’s oldest and best stories. At the heart of it is the sharing of the rich and diverse bounty of the land.
Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state, and here’s hoping that some of Michigan’s varied fruits, vegetables, meat and other local and tasty foods will make it to your table today and throughout the holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
More Thanksgiving on Michigan in Pictures.
November 20, 2012
Michigan in Pictures had a great feature on chestnuts last year that has a lot of information on this traditional Thanksgiving food.
With 54 farms encompassing 813 acres, Michigan ranks first in the nation in chestnut plantings. As you plan your Thanksgiving dinner, consider Michigan chestnuts and other local products. Over on Absolute Michigan we have a feature that can help you do just that - make it a Michigan Thanksgiving.
If you want to put chestnuts on your holiday menu, MyNorth has a recipe for a Michigan Chestnut Pie. Or, if you prefer your chestnuts in liquid form, how about a Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otono (Autumn Fire)? Every year Jolly Pumpkin makes a limited amount of this seasonal Belgian ale brewed with chestnuts and spices and it’s delicious!
More food on Michigan in Pictures.
October 25, 2012
Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbita family, which includes squash, watermelons, and cucumbers. Their origins are believed to have come from Central America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico that date back over 7000 years ago.
Pumpkins were an important food source for Native Americans. They regularly made pumpkin porridge, stew and pumpkin jerky and they made a broth that contained squash blossoms. They also dried pumpkin shells, and then weaved them into mats, which they used for trading. Early pilgrims quickly added pumpkins to their menus and also sent seeds back to Europe. The earliest version of pumpkin pie was made by baking a hollowed out pumpkin that was filled with milk, honey and spices.
Pumpkins are high in potassium, Vitamin A and fiber. They are also a good source of beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, copper and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
Read on for more including recipes and a comprehensive listing of Michigan pumpkin patches.
Lots more pumpkins on Michigan in Pictures.
October 23, 2012
The Cornell Mushroom Bog is a great resource for mushroom hunters. Their entry on Eating the Chicken of the Woods begins:
David Arora remarks in Mushrooms Demystified that this is one of the “foolproof four” — an unmistakable mushroom. (see below)
This large, brightly colored fungus is often found in clusters but is occasionally solitary. You may discover this mushroom during the summer and fall but rarely in winter or spring. The top surface of Chicken of the Woods is bright orange which can be either more reddish or yellowish than you see here. It tends to lighten in color near the edges. This mushroom has no gills, instead its bright yellow undersurface is covered with tiny pores. The young Chicken of the Woods is “succulent” and has a mild flavor. Older specimens tend to change color as they develop, as well as become brittle. The young mushrooms have bright yellows and oranges; in age they dull to yellow and then pure white.
A good tree can yield up to 50 pounds, but be wary of older fungi as they toughen and develop a sour flavor! If you have found a specimen worthy of collection, you can harvest the mushrooms and return the next year for another crop. Or cut just the outer edge (about 5 cm of the fungus) and return later in the season for a second helping. Be wary of Chickens growing on conifers (in the Northeast) as they are a different species and can cause poisoning. Chicken of the Woods can make a fine chicken substitute as long as you make sure to fully cook the mushroom.
Chicken of the Woods grows in trees that are either living or decaying. These mushrooms cause a reddish brown heart-rot of wood. If the mushrooms are seen fruiting, you can be sure that the fungus has already attacked the tree. They can destabilize a tree by hollowing out its center–this can be problematic for forest owners. Historically, this fungus was known to damage the wooden ships of the British Naval Fleet.
Read on for more and also see Chicken of the Woods or Sulphur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) from MichiganMorels.com and Laetiporus on Wikipedia.
More Michigan mushrooms on Michigan in Pictures!
October 18, 2012
I ran into Ken last weekend in Traverse City, and – like many visitors to the region – he spent some time touring Traverse City’s wine country. The vineyards look great at this time of year and (even better) the grapes in these vineyards and all over the state are defying the general agricultural awfulness. Long, dry summer made this vintage year for wine grapes from Crain’s Detroit Business begins:
Call it global warming or climate change, it doesn’t matter to winemaker Lee Lutes. He calls the past few years of long, warm, dry summers an “exceptional growing season” for his grapes.
Today the head winemaker at Black Star Farms is helping harvest the crop on the winery’s 150 acres on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.
And while the region’s crop of tart cherries was ruined by the weather’s mood swings in the spring — 80 degrees in March, then frost in May — wine grapes mature later and, for the most part, survived if not thrived. The variety of grapes grown in Michigan are really meant for warmer regions.
More Michigan farms on Michigan in Pictures.
September 26, 2012
The Mycological Society of San Francisco entry for puffballs (Calvatia, Calbovista, Lycoperdon) says
Puffballs come in many sizes, some as small as a marble and some as large as a basketball. The name “puffball” is used here to refer to three genera of fungi, Calvatia, Calbovista, and Lycoperdon. Their surfaces may be smooth, covered with small or large warts, or ornamented with spikes. Puffballs are usually white and round, and are attached to the ground with little or no apparent stem.
Puffballs seem to prefer disturbed earth, and enjoy surprising the forager, for they are seldom the prey being sought. The largest ones are members of the genus Calvatia. It is estimated that the average mature specimen of C. gigantea contains 7 trillion spores stored inside the puffball!
Most puffballs are safe to eat, although rare reactions have been reported.
Two important notes:
- They must be all-white inside. Any shade of yellow or purple makes them inedible or upsetting.
- When cut, they must have a uniform internal consistency. The external appearance of immature Amanita species is similar to puffballs. However, the cap and gills of these unexpanded mushrooms become apparent when the egg-shaped fungi are cut in half. The Amanita genus includes the most poisonous species of mushrooms.
They note that puffballs are often known as the “breakfast mushroom” because they pair so well with eggs. Read on for some recipes.
You can also get a recipe for puffball fritters from the Cornell Mycology department where they note that if each of those 7 trillion (7,000,000,000,000) spores grew and yielded a ten-inch puffball, the combined puffball mass would be 800 times that of the earth. I’m not sure exactly what you can do with that knowledge, but here’s hoping it comes in handy.
More Michigan mushrooms on Michigan in Pictures.
September 10, 2012
Orange Pippin says that the Wolf River apple (first discovered along the river of the same name in Wisconsin) is:
A well-known American cooking apple, notable for its large size. Wolf River is mainly used for cooking, and it keeps its shape when cooked. It is fairly sweet and doesn’t need much sugar added.
Wolf River has a very high natural resistance to the disease apple scab, and good resistance to fireblight and mildew. It is also very cold hardy, making it a good choice for growing in the northern part of North America.
The Freep notes that the extreme damage to Michigan’s 2012 apple crop has created problems for those in the apple business:
Prices will vary, but consumers can expect fresh apple prices to be about 30% to 50% higher than last year, according to Bob Tritten, Michigan State University Extension Service fruit educator for southeast Michigan. Cider prices are up about 50%.
Last year’s Michigan apple crop was about 26 million bushels, said Dawn Drake, manager of the Michigan Processing Apple Growers Division, a branch of the Michigan Farm Bureau. But early warm weather forced the apple blossoms out early, and that was followed by several days of freezes, which killed most of the tender young blooms.
“This year they’ll be lucky to have 2 (million bushels),” Drake said.
Sergei didn’t think much of the taste when he tried it at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, but I read that the Wolf River doesn’t reach full flavor unless it gets hit by frost. Check it out bigger and see more in his Fall slideshow.
September 7, 2012
Here’s the latest in the always popular Michigan in Pictures Duckie Series.
Seriously, untouched—-exactly how it grew and the markings are natural…just a little saturation of color and edging but this is really Gods duck.
July 23, 2012
Peaches (like everything else) are ripening earlier this year and South Haven peaches are starting to show up at farm markets across the state. This nice Michigan Peach Industry History article from the Michigan Peach Sponsors begins:
The first peach tree in western Michigan was probably planted by William Burnett, who established a trading post on the west bank of the St. Joseph River a mile upstream from Lake Michigan in the 1780s. Burnett planted an orchard near his post and was credited with having taken great pains in caring for it. When the first permanent settlers reached the area in the late 1820s they found Burnett’s orchard healthy and still bearing fruit. Besides a few peach trees, the settlers also found a few seedling peach trees growing along the east bank of Hickory Creek and at the future site of the community of St. Joseph.
The next peach trees planted in Berrien County were at the Carey Mission in present-day Niles Township. In 1826 the Reverend Isaac McCoy, founder of the mission, had a peach orchard of “two or three hundred” trees.
Berrien’s earliest permanent settlers brought seedling fruit trees with them and planted enough trees to provide for their personal needs. Because trees took a long time to mature, some of the more resourceful pioneers budded their fruits on the roots of wild plum trees to acquire crops more quickly. Most early settlers planted apple and pear trees that were hardy and relatively disease resistant. They also planted a considerable number of the more delicate peach trees. Nearly every pioneer family had at least one. The growing of peaches was slow to catch on, but when settlers realized the region was suited for successful cultivation of the climate-sensitive fruit, peaches quickly gained popularity.
Read on for more and also see Ready to Pick: Peaches on Absolute Michigan.
More great Michigan foods on Michigan in Pictures!