Food, Glorious Food: Apple Orchards

As September draws to a close, those last summer tomatoes and ears of sweet corn seem especially flavorful. Luckily autumn is ready to bring fresh apples and pumpkins to our table.

pink pot and tomatoes - Douglas Michigan

Look over the following list of lakeshore orchards and grab a bushel basket. Once you've brought home those pumpkins and apples, you may want to try one of the seasonal recipes you'll find here as well.

U Pick Pumpkins - Fennville Michigan

Allegan County

A.W. Overhiser Orchards
64th St & 109th Ave., South Haven, MI
Open through October, 9 am - 5 pm
Hayrides, apples, pumpkins

Crane Orchards U-Pick
Fennville, MI
Open early Sept through late October
Hayrides, corn maze, over 2 dozen varieties of apples to pick

Dee’s Lakeshore Farm
1672 70th Street, Lakeshore Dr., Fennville, MI
Open to November 1
Apples, pumpkins, honey

Ever Green Lane Farm
1824 66th St., Fennville, MI
Open through October
Organic apples, cider

McIntosh Apple Orchards
6431 107th Ave., South Haven, MI
Open through October
U-pick apples, cider

Stephenson Farms
6783 Baseline Road, South Haven, MI
Open to December
Apples, cider, pumpkins, honey

Harvest Loaf

1 3/4 cups Flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin - pure not pie filling
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

3/4 cup dried cranberries
(Can triple the recipe to use a whole large can of pumpkin.)

Combine first 7 ingredients. Cream butter and sugar till light . Blend in eggs. Beat well. Add dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin, beginning and ending with dry ingredients Then stir in cranberries and nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan or muffin cups. Bake 350 50-60 minutes. Test with toothpick, invert onto wire rack, cool and either freeze or enjoy warm. (M.M.)

fruiting apple tree - Fennville Michigan

Berrien County

Calderwood Farms
2993 East Lemon Creek Road, Berrien Springs, MI
U-pick apples

Frank Farms
8249 Dean Hill Road, Berrien Center, MI
Open through October
Apples, pumpkins

Fruit Acres Farm Market & U-Pick
I-94 at Coloma Exit #39, Coloma, MI
Open to October 25
Apples, pumpkins, hayrides

Nye’s Apple Barn & Farms
3151 Niles Road, St. Joseph, MI
Open through October
Apples, pumpkins

Sommerfeldt Farms
1091093 S. Benton Center Road, Benton Harbor, MI
Open through October
Pumpkins, winter squash

road thru orchard - Saugatuck Township Michigan

Kent County

Fruit Ridge Hayrides
11966 Fruit Ridge Ave., Kent City, MI
Open through October
U-pick apples, pumpkins, hayrides, cider, corn maze

Hilton’s Apple Acres
Caledonia, MI
Open to December
Apples, cider jams, U-pick pumpkins, haunted barn

Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill
8540 Two Mile Road, Ada, MI
Apples, pumpkins

Fried apples are truly American. In the South, they're a way of life, and every cook makes them their own way. When I married a man raised in eastern Kentucky, I took on the task of making fried apples as a challenge - my mother-in-law's were perfectly sweetened and delicious. I watched and learned my own way over time, but I believe the key is the type of apples you use.

My mother-in-law, Quincy Mims, preferred Northern Spy apples, which are tart but not sour like Granny Smith, and keep their shape better than MacIntosh or others. I generally don't measure the sugar or cinnamon - I believe every cook should decide how much sweetness and spice they need. But fried apples are good on *anything* - from waffles or pancakes, oatmeal or French toast for breakfast, as an every day or holiday side dish, and especially delicious over ice cream, cake, or by themselves with a crunchy almond cookie in hand.

Northern Spy Fried Apples

10-12 Northern Spy apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/2 cup white sugar plus 1/4 cup brown sugar
cinnamon to taste
oil for the pan

In a heavy skillet, drizzle vegetable or corn oil to coat. Add sliced apples over medium heat and let them simmer - DO NOT COVER. Once they start getting softer, toss sugar in and stir. Add cinnamon until apples look dark - the apples should keep some shape and have a syrupy glaze to them. Serve warm or cold. (M.M.)

pumpkins - douglas michigan

Ottawa County

Grand View Orchard
1118 Riley Street, Hudsonville, MI
Open til sold out

Vander Mill
14921 Cleveland Street, Spring Lake, MI
Open to December
Seasonal cider

red apples in tree - Fennville Michigan

Van Buren County

Apple A Day Farm
53392 38th Avenue, Bangor, MI
Open through October
U-pick apples

Schem Lane Orchards and Farm Market
28110 County Road 215, Bangor, MI
Apples, cider

Pumpkins on Shelves - Fennville Michigan

October/November 2010