Love Michigan Apples
We love cider mills and Michigan apple orchards. Thanks to the Michigan Apple Committee for hosting the Michigan Apple tour and inviting us.
I have always wanted to know more about Michigan apples.
We lived near the Country Mill in Charlotte and I have sat in on the explanation they tell preschool children on apple farming, picking and processing to make apple cider. This tour was so much more. I thought I knew about Michigan apples. I was wrong.
The tour took us to 2 orchards and a processing facility.
Did you know Michigan produces enough apples to provide apples in 26 states and 18 countries?
With just 850 family own orchards, that are 5th, 6th and 7th generation. Michigan does that.
Pretty awesome right?
Sietsema Orchard’s Hard Core and More
The first orchard we visited was Andy at Sietsema Orchard. Andy’s orchard does cider and hard cider. (You can find them on Facebook too). This is an orchard you can go to and buy your apple cider and hard cider, along with bakery items and fresh apples. It smells heavenly there.
They are a 4th generation orchard with over 150 different varieties of heirloom apples. They have 15 acres of high density (trees are planted close together) apple trees. This orchard not only sells their products onsite, they are also selling their hard cider in stores throughout Michigan and beyond, processing everything onsite. So look at your bottle, you might just be drinking some hard cider from Sietsema Orchards!
Younquist Orchard more than a Bushel and a Peck
The second stop of our tour took us to Youngquist Orchard. They are on a fruit ridge about 30 miles from Lake Michigan.
They are in their 5th-6th generation with Mark Younquist running the farm with his son Jordan and a seasonal crew that helps them for harvesting.
Youngquist has 180 acres of apples that you will find in your produce section of your stores.
Each one of those crates holds 750-800 pounds of apples.
There are rows upon rows of different apple trees. We were lucky enough to be there during harvest time.
The workers are on 18 foot ladders with bags that hold 60 pounds of apples.
Did you know there is a certain way to pick an apple to not hurt the apple or the tree? I didn’t either.
The apples that are picked off the trees are the only ones that make it to the store. The apples that fall to the ground are not sent to the stores.
Younquist Orchard does work with local bee keepers to help pollinate his trees too. There is a interesting methodology to have an orchard. Every so many trees there is a different kind of apple tree (like crab apple) to cross-pollinate with the apple trees. They work an integrated pest manager to help them figure out how to keep the unwanted bugs away from their apples.
It is not just planting trees in a row and picking apples. You have to ensure your soil is correct, you have the right climate, have a high enough elevation so your trees can survive the weather.
Jack Brown Produce – Year Round Apple Love
Our next stop was to Jack Brown Produce. Here we were able to see how you can get Michigan Apples year round. The company started back in 1927 in the garage of Jack an Aletta “Ma’ Brown and has grown to a huge packing company.
Jack Brown Produce sells apples worldwide and from Texas to Florida. Who would have known our delicious Michigan apples would be in countries like India, in Europe and more. Just amazing.
To get Michigan apples year round, Jack Brown Produce has temperature controlled rooms that takes most of the oxygen out and essentially puts the apples to sleep, so they can last all year long. Instead of 20% oxygen, it’s 2% and the air is tested every 15 minutes to make sure all is well.
I love that Jack Brown uses a Just in Time system. Stores order apples in the morning, and will have them by midnight or the next day.
That is fresh.
So which is your favorite apple? Mine are the granny smith and those delicious honey crisps! They allow us to make delicious apple pies, apple crisp, apple butter, apple pie filling and applesauce and of course, eat fresh apples.