August in Northern Michigan: a Food Paradise

We spent the weekend at our house up in Michigan for my sweet husband’s birthday. This weekend had me saying, “yup, I could live up here!”

Apparently Northern Michigan is a food paradise come late summer.

The day we arrived I went out to check on my plants in the yard. I found my raspberry bushes had perfect ripe fruit on them.

But there were also these rogue wild berries all over the back of the house. I think they are wild black raspberries. They too had lots of fruit on them! I went and got my basket.

This was my first collection of the weekend, from our yard. Well, probably half of my first collection. The other part went straight into my belly.

I used those berries to decorate the raspberry buttercream cake I made for Josh.

So after seeing the fruit in our yard, I took my basket and the dog and set off for the park by our house. At the edge of the park, I found an apple tree dropping apples all over the ground. They looked like small golden delicious. I tried one. It was a little tart but not too bad so I filled my basket and headed home.

Many of the apples were bruised from hitting the ground but they worked just fine for jelly making. I had to rig up a jelly bag from a pillowcase as I wasn’t 100% prepared for this culinary adventure. I got it done though.

And the jelly turned out beautifully. Tart apples have so much natural pectin in them. All I added was sugar.

My next food experience came on the following morning’s walk. Back down at the beach, I found all kinds of berries. There were tons of raspberries at the edge of the beach.

There were also a couple different varieties of black raspberries.

I filled my basket with berries and some more apples.

By adding the apples to the berries, I got pectin for my wild Michigan berry jelly and a nice bit of tartness. It turned out wonderfully. I may or may not have eaten it by the spoonful when it was done šŸ™‚

The next day I took the truck up last Traverse City to a place in Sutton’s Bay called Bardenhagen Farm. I had called them when we were up here last asking about currants. The owner said she would call me when they were ripe. True to her word, she rang me this past week. I was so excited that the timing worked out. I asked her to hold 8 quarts for me but when I saw how beautiful and perfect they were I got 16.

When I was a little girl, my grandma Marie grew currants. My absolute favorite jelly that she made was red currant. I’ve been trying to recreate it for years but have never been able to find or grow the berries for it. These babies are coming home with us for a marathon jelly making day!

On my way home I also picked up a box of Michigan peaches. They smelled so good in the car coming back. That area around Sutton’s Bay is packed with fruit farms. I want to plan a day next summer, early August, to just go up there and explore.

It only took me about 2 hours to can 25 pounds of peaches. I tried to replicate another of my grandma Marie’s favorites: canned peaches in syrup. Looking forward to popping these open mid-winter for a taste of sweet summer.

Our final night there, I couldn’t resist one more trip to the park. I got another half a basket of black raspberries and a big bunch of wild mint.

The mint was so fragrant! It’s amazing the difference from what I grow in my garden. I’m taking it back to make a batch of mint wine. The berries I froze to add to my fruit crumbles.

We are headed home now, loaded with food – canned and fresh. That’s the best kind of trip for me. Eat well and bring a taste of it home too!

2 thoughts on “August in Northern Michigan: a Food Paradise

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