Taking advantage of Michigan’s huge apple harvest with a bushel basket full of recipes
Photographs by Cybelle Codish
(page 1 of 6)
It’s a yearly ritual. Plucking at least a bushel of crisp apples and storing them in my cool garage all fall. On the way to my car, I always take two. Or three. I gobble them to the core and feel truly happy. Last year my overstuffed bushel bag of Honey Crisp weighed in at nearly 50 pounds. I felt like a lottery winner.
Cider mills are throwing open their barn doors and queues snake with anxious, can-hardly-wait customers anticipating gulps of cool, clear Michigan cider.
With all them apples, it’s hard to believe we’re not the nation’s top grower. We rank third, with about a billion (that’s right, billion) pounds of apples expected to be harvested this coming season.
Last year’s bumper crop produced more than 30 million bushels, double the year before, according to the Michigan Apple Committee. But despite late spring’s crazy cold spell and an overall soggy year, the weather didn’t seem to hurt the 2014 forecast. Only New York and Washington state produce more than the Mitten. This doesn’t even account for those snatched from trees many of us have in our yards, leftovers from orchards turned into subdivisions throughout the last century.
Way more than half of all Michigan apples are turned into commercial foods, pastries, snacks, and condiments, including apple ketchup and chutney, as well as stuffed meats and desserts of every apple ilk. Plus, there’s a growing market for hard ciders (see "Pressing Business").
The most popular varieties? Honey Crisp is the “it” apple. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji, and Gala are next. In all, about 20 varieties of apples are grown in Michigan on a commercial basis.
If you’re picking your own, know that not all apples are “ready” at the same time. Orchards can tell you when it’s time to pick your favorite variety. There are several sites to help you find where to pick: pickyourown.org/MI.htm, michiganapples.com, or upickmichigan.com have links to growers in your area.
So what can you do with all the apples when you have gobbled all you can and imbibed gallons of cider? Click through the next few pages for just a few recipes.