Whether you’re picking them from an orchard or from a shelf in the grocery store, here’s a look at the different varieties of apples in Michigan and when they’re harvested, so you know when to be on the lookout for them.
The Michigan apple harvest is well under way. This week, you can expect varieties like Jonamac, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious and Jonathan to begin showing up, and toward the end of the month, you’ll see Braeburn, Fuji and Red Delicious.
The state is expecting an above-average crop in 2018 with a total harvest of about 28 million bushels. Apples grown in Michigan have a wide variety of flavor profiles ranging from sweet to tart to tangy.
There has been some recent upheaval in the apple world. According to the U.S. Apple Association, the Gala apple has taken over the No. 1 spot in the U.S., knocking the Red Delicious to No. 2. Red Delicious, often a lunchbox favorite, held the spot for 50 years. The beloved Honeycrisp, meanwhile, is taking over the No. 5 spot from Golden Delicious. Granny Smith apples are No. 3 and Fuji is No. 4. The association says that the Gala apple is favored by consumers because of its taste, texture and sweetness, while “growers like the variety because of its relative ease of growing and productivity.”
Ask any apple lover in Michigan about the Honeycrisp, and he or she will likely swoon. Many say eating a Honeycrisp is almost like drinking apple cider, but Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, calls the Honeycrisp a “diva apple.”
“They require extra handling, are more of a delicate apple and need to be babied along the line,” Smith says.
That helps explain why they cost more than other apples. They’re also “a challenge to grow, harvest, store and pack,” says Smith.
Honeycrisp apples have sensitive skin. After they’re picked, their stems must be clipped to prevent them from marring the skin of other Honeycrisp apples during packing. This helps explain why you rarely see them at U-pick orchards. All the extra pampering comes at a cost, too. We’ve seen Honeycrisp apples sale-priced recently at $1.99 a pound.
Here’s a look at half a dozen Michigan apples and their flavor profiles and some recipes that make the most of them.
This late-season apples is crunchy and sweet but retains a bit of tartness. It’s also considered a low-acid apple.
A favorite eating variety. Gala apples have a soft flesh and are not overly sweet. Best eaten fresh.
The all-around consumer favorite. Honeycrisp hits the mark with crunch, sweetness, tanginess and juiciness. Best eaten fresh.
Long a favorite apple for eating fresh. Known for its sweetness and soft skin.
Smooth and soft to the bit with yellow skin. Known for its sweetness and gingery tones.
“Superbly crisp and juicy with shades of tart and sweet in each apple,” says the Michigan Apple Committee. Also on the large side.
Contact Susan Selasky at 313-222-6872 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
Easy Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 9 rolls / Prep Time: 15 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tube (8 ounces) crescent dinner rolls
1 apple, finely chopped
CREAM CHEESE GLAZE:
¼ cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 9-inch cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter. In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
Unroll crescent roll dough on work surface. Press and pinch all perforations to seal.
Evenly brush dough with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle sugar mixture over butter. Evenly spread chopped apple over dough, leaving ½-inch border at long edges of dough.
Starting from one long edge of dough, roll dough up into long tube, pinching edges to seal. If any perforations in dough have opened, pinch to seal before cutting rolls. Using sharp knife, cut dough into 9 pieces. Arrange pieces, cut side up, in prepared pan. Flatten each roll slightly.
Transfer to oven and bake 20 to 22 minutes or until rolls are golden brown and dough is cooked through. Transfer to wire rack to cool 5 minutes before transferring rolls to serving platter.
Meanwhile, make the Maple Cream Cheese Glaze: In microwave safe bowl, heat cream cheese on high 20 seconds. Add maple syrup and powdered sugar; whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls and serve immediately.
Cider-Glazed Chicken with Apple-Raisin Stuffing
Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 35 minutes
To round out this meal, serve with a mixed-greens salad. For the stuffing, use Cortland, Empire, Ida Red, Gala, Jonagold, Jonathan or Paula Red apple.
1 box whole-wheat chicken stuffing mix
1 large Michigan apple, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup red or golden raisins
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 to 6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup Michigan apple cider or juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions, but add apple pieces and raisins to boiling water just before adding stuffing mix. Set aside and keep warm. To make the chicken, in a large sealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt and allspice. Add the chicken; seal and shake bag to coat evenly.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and add apple cider and vinegar to pan; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is done and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and drizzle with cider glaze. Serve with stuffing.
Adapted from www.michigapples.com.
Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
Caramelized Onion Soup with Apples and Sweet Potatoes
Makes: About 8 cups / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (not all active time)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium-size sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium-size Gala or Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup apple cider
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1½ to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped thyme or sage, optional
Puff pastry cups, optional (see note)
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, 30 to 35 minutes or until onions are caramel colored. (Adjust heat to prevent scorching.) Add the apples, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add broth, cider and sweet potato. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes or until apples and potato are tender. Remove from heat, and let stand 15 minutes.
Process mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Alternatively, and working in batches, transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the cream and lemon juice. Return to low heat; simmer, stirring often, 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper and herbs, if using. Serve with puff pastry cups.
Cook’s note: Look for Puff Pastry cups by Pepperidge Farm in the frozen section near the desserts. These are mini cups that are great for appetizer-size portions. Prepare them according to package directions.
Adapted from www.myrecipes.com. Tested by Susan Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis per 1 cup.
168 calories (30% from fat), 6 grams fat (4 grams sat. fat), 27 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 892 mg sodium, 19 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber
Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
Serves: 10 (generous servings) / Preparation time: 35 minutes
Total time: 4 hours, 50 minutes (not all active time)
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples (about 3 large)
Streusel topping (see note)
Caramel sauce (see note)
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apples and sauté 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Meanwhile, prepare streusel topping and caramel sauce. Set aside ½ cup caramel sauce for another use.
Beat ½ cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan. Top with apples. Drizzle with ½ cup caramel sauce, then sprinkle with streusel topping.
Bake cake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to prevent excessive browning; bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until center is set. (A wooden pick will not come out clean.) Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Cool completely on wire rack (about 1½ hours). Drizzle with ½ cup caramel sauce.
Cook’s note: To prepare caramel sauce, bring 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, ½ cup butter, ¼ cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup honey to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool 15 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.
To prepare the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, stir together 1½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup chopped pecans, ½ cup butter (melted), ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt until blended. Let stand 30 minutes or until firm enough to crumble into small pieces.
From Southern Living Magazine, September 2012 issue.
Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
680 calories (39% from fat), 14 grams fat (10 grams sat. fat), 98 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 482 mg sodium, 98 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.
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