Apple Picking is A “Pure Michigan” Family Tradition

Growing up in Michigan, my favorite family outings were to local fruit farms. There was nothing better than eating fresh fruit directly off of the bush or tree. As a parent, this has become one of my favorite activities with my kids. My kids can eat their weight in fresh fruit and it’s a snack I feel good about them eating. 

We went apple picking a couple weeks ago, and came home with a bushel and a half of the best apples in the world. I honestly don’t think I am exaggerating by saying that. 

The Honeycrisp apples were larger than softballs, the delicious aroma of the McIntosh lingered in my car for a few days, and the Gala apple I ate fresh off the tree was to die for. 

When you eat an apple so fresh like that, the flavor is incomparable. That apple was so sweet, juicy, and crisp, I wasn’t even jealous of the fudge my kids were eating – I was in food heaven! Turns out it wasn’t just the freshness that made such a perfect apple…

bushel of apples

Michigan Climate: Apples Love to Grow Here!

Turns out, the sometimes-wacky lake effect weather we get in Michigan actually creates the perfect formula for growing apples. The heavy snow, humid summers, and delays in spring and fall are a good thing when it comes to apple growing. 

Our proximity to the Great Lakes and our rich soil complete this perfect growing storm. While an orange tree wouldn’t love our chilly winters, apple trees are very hardy and love the cold

The very weather we shake our heads at and joke about creates ideal growing conditions for the best apples in the world, making Michigan the third largest apple producing state.

I’m glad to know this crazy weather mix is actually good for something!

Test your Apple Knowledge With Fun Facts from the Michigan Apple Committee 

  • Michigan is home to 825 family-run apple farms.
  • There are more than 200 farm markets, cider mills, and u-pick orchards in our state.
  • 11.3 million commercially-producing apple trees are located in Michigan.
  • The average annual production is over 25 million bushels.
  • We grow 16 varieties for commercial use.
  • Michigan apples are distributed to retailers and supermarkets in more than 30 states.

Hot off the press! The Governor just recently proclaimed October as Michigan Apple Month. Read about it here.

Where can I get Michigan Apples and How do I Know They are From Here?

You can get Michigan apples everywhere in Michigan! Orchards, farm markets, and even the grocery store. Just  Look for the “Michigan Apple” sticker at your local store. 

(Check out the Michigan Apple Committee’s store locator to find a local retailer.)

From the sweet Honeycrisp to the more tart Jonathon, there is a variety to satisfy all tastes.

apples with stickers

Can an Apple a Day REALLY Keep the Doctor Away?

Short answer – Yes!

Not only are you supporting your local farmers by purchasing Michigan apples, and you are also supporting your health. Apples are high in flavonoids and antioxidants (def: plant nutrients that are believed to fight cancer), while low in sodium and calories. 

One study claimed that middle-aged people that ate an apple a day for four weeks were able to lower their LDL cholesterol by 40%. 

Did you know that apples are called “nature’s toothbrush”? Their fibrous texture acts like mini teeth scrubbers, and the natural tanins brighten your smile. Giving your kids apples for snacks can literally “keep the dentist away”!

What to do With That Bushel of Apples you Just Picked

Fresh apples will last a long time if stored in a cool, dry location, but if you have a large quantity, there are many different ways you can use them. 

What I love about #miapples is that our perfect conditions produce such a delicious, sweet apple that you really don’t have to add much to it. 

hands making applesauce

I make applesauce every year and I never put a drop of sugar in it, because it just doesn’t need it! 

You can also go sparingly on the sweetener in pies and other desserts because the flavor of the apples shining through is all you need for flavor perfection.

In addition to making applesauce and freezing it to enjoy throughout the year, I like to make a pie or apple crisp. I often make an extra pie to freeze and pull out later for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Just defrost then bake as usual!)

just baked apple pies on stovetop

If you want to get more creative with your apples, check out the recipe section of the Michigan Apple Committee’s website. They have a guide of recipes sorted by category: beverages, sides, main dishes, and desserts to name a few.

I can’t wait to dig into some of these recipes with the apples I have left…if my kids don’t eat them all first!

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