July 11, 2014
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.
June 12, 2014
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.
May 30, 2014
May 3, 2014
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:
- Over on Absolute Michigan I wrote Five Things You Need to Know about Michigan Morels that has some good info.
- Cherie wrote a great feature on morel collecting on Leelanau.com that includes a recipe.
- When you’re hunting morels, you need to know the difference between true morels and false morels, which are mildly poisonous.
- Here’s a great old photo of mushroomers with BIG baskets from the early days of the Boyne City National Morel Mushroom Festival which returns for its 54th year May 15-18, 2014.
- There’s also the 55th annual Mesick Mushroom Festival next weekend (May 9-11)
- TIME had a feature a few years back that I linked to (also with one of Rick’s photos) in Michigan Mushroom Nation about how mushrooms are becoming as American as apple pie.
- When the Absolute Michigan pool reached its 150,000th photo, I marked the occasion here with one big morel.
April 8, 2014
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.
Today’s post comes via eatdrinkTC. Michigan 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.
March 18, 2014
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!
More maple syrup on Michigan in Pictures!
February 21, 2014
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)