August 14, 2015
I’ve shared the story of the Redhaven peach before on Michigan in Pictures. Strangely enough, it featured a photo by a photographer named Alissa!
Peaches are rolling in at farm markets all across Michigan. A favorite article that Michigan History Magazine shared on Absolute Michigan tells the story of A Peach of a Man:
Many people have contributed to Michigan’s fruit industry, but Stanley Johnston stands above the rest. Johnston not only developed a new peach that is the most widely grown peach in the world today. He also made Michigan the nation’s leading producer of blueberries.
Johnston was the superintendent of Michigan State University’s (MSU) experiment station in South Haven from 1920 to 1969. There, he developed a better peach. Johnston took peaches that had good features, like ones that ripened at different times or did not turn brown when canned or frozen. He took pollen from the male plant and joined it to the flower of the female plant. When the fruit grew, he collected seeds and started a new tree. When the tree produced fruit five years later, he could see if he made a better peach.
During his career, Johnston grew and studied more than 20,000 peach trees. Eight different types, called “havens” (for South Haven), were planted by farmers. Havens ripened earlier, so the peach-growing season was longer, which meant more peaches could be grown and sold. One of these peaches, named Redhaven for its nice red color, is the most popular peach in the world today.
Read on at Absolute Michigan and definitely get down to your local farmer’s market for some peachy goodness!
June 12, 2015
Westview Orchards in Washington Township north of Detroit let me know yesterday that they’ll have strawberries to pick this weekend. Real Time Farms agrees strawberries are starting to roll into southern Michigan farm markets from farmers including Prochaska Farms of Tecumseh, who had some at the Saline Farmers Market last Saturday. If picking your own is more your speed, U-Pick Michigan has up-to-date reports.
The Michigan Ag Council’s page on strawberries says that:
Michigan’s strawberry season starts in early June and can extend into mid July. Look for Michigan strawberries in-store or find them where they’re largely produced, in Berrien, Leelanau and Van Buren counties.
Michigan Strawberry facts:
- Michigan grows strawberries for both fresh and processed uses
- In 2009, Michigan produced 43,000 tons of fresh strawberries and 3,000 tons of processed strawberries, generating $6.6 million
- Most of the fresh Michigan strawberries were picked by consumers at “u-pick” operations around the state
- Strawberries contain 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C
- They are an excellent source of potassium, which can help control blood pressure and fight strokes
- They are an excellent source of fiber, which help reduce total cholesterol levels
In kind of a neat little coincidence, my friend Trish snapped this photo five years ago on June 12, 2010! She’s got a great blog entry on making strawberry preserves, something that’s definitely a Michigan tradition.
May 8, 2015
Reports of morels are coming in from all across the state. They’ll be celebrating our delicious woodland friends this weekend (May 8-10) at the Mesick Mushroom Festival and next weekend (May 14-17) at the National Morel Mushroom Festival in Boyne City.
If you’re looking for Michigan morel photos and features, click that link for a ton from Michigan in Pictures. Happy hunting!!
Here’s some of a Wild Food Wednesday on Wild Leeks I wrote for eatdrinkTC.com. You often find these oniony treasures when you’re morel hunting. Leeks are in the woodse now, and more than one little bird has told me of morels popping around the state as well!
Whether you know them as ramps, wild leeks, spring onions or by their scientific name of Allium tricoccum, ramps are a wild onion with a delicious & pungent garlicky flavor. Wild leeks are found from as far south as Alabama all the way up into Canada. To the south, they are more commonly known as ramps while in the north, wild leek is more common. Wikipedia’s page on Allium tricoccum says that “ramps” comes from the English word ramson, a common name of the European bear leek (Allium ursinum) that is related to our American species.
Regarding harvesting, Ramp-age at the Earthy Delights blog says:
Good ramps or wild leeks should have two or three whole bright green leaves with the small white bulb attached by a purplish stem. The leaves are generally about 6 inches long, although ramps tend to be harvested at a somewhat earlier stage than are wild leeks. Depending on where you get them, ramps or wild leeks may be still muddy from the field or all cleaned and trimmed. The key is that they be fresh. Yellowing or withering in the leaves is a sign that they have gone too long.
A papery wrapper leaf (and some dirt) may surround the bulb and should be pulled off as you would with scallions. Trim away any roots along with their little button attachment. The entire plant is now ready for eating.
Once ramps / wild leeks have been cleaned, store them in the refrigerator tightly wrapped to keep them from drying out (and to protect the rest of the contents of the fridge from the heady aroma). They should keep for a week or more, but use them as soon as possible after harvest.
Some wild leek facts & lore:
- Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were especially revered for their beneficial effect upon the throat. The Greek philosopher Aristotle credited the clear voice of the partridge to a diet of leeks, while the Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger. (World’s Healthiest Foods)
- The name of Chicago originates from “Checagou” (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah)means “wild onions” in the Potawatomi language. The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland and wild leeks that covered it. (Earthy Delights)
- Wild leeks are high in Vitamins C and A, and are full of healthful minerals. And they have the same cholesterol-reducing capacity found in garlic and other members of this family. (Earthy Delights)
- The entire plant is edible and leaves, especially when young, are delicious when sauteed. (my kitchen)
I’m especially happy to feature today’s photo because we buy incredible lettuce, greens and duck & quail eggs from Richard & Diana of Spring Hollow Farms of Buckley. If you see them at the Traverse City Farmer’s Market, be sure to buy a bag or two of their spring mix!
April 17, 2015
In spring, a young Michigander’s fancies turn to … morels! Here’s a shot from Honor in the northwest Lower Peninsula showing a handful of black morels found on Tax Day. It’s earlier than I would have expected but hopefully it signals a good, long season for these woodland treasures.
Lots more Michigan morel photos and information on Michigan in Pictures!
PS: If you’re finding morels anywhere, post a comment here or two our Facebook.
August 27, 2014
The Freep reports that Michigan is forecasting a crop of almost 29 million bushels of apples in 2014:
This year’s estimate is just under the record 30 million bushels that were picked last year. The yield in 2013 was so robust that some of the state’s growers and packers, most of whom are on the west side of the state, filled their storerooms and even rented additional space to handle all the extra big crop.
In addition to setting a record, Smith said last year’s bumper crop put Michigan in the No. 2 spot for apple production, pushing New York down to No. 3.
Washington is by far the No. 1 apple-producing state in the country, growing more than twice as many apples as Michigan and New York combined.
Additional fun apple fact from this well-done Freep article: If you want Michigan apples, McDonald’s has them. The fast food giant is a major customer for the Michigan apple industry, purchasing 25.5 million pounds in 2013.
More apples on Michigan in Pictures!