Everything you need to know about Michigan Apples

Crate of red apples
Crate of Michigan apples

Michigan Apples

There are so many incredible apple orchards and cider mills in Michigan. If you are looking for a fun fall getaway, think about staying at a Michigan Quality Assured Bed and Breakfast that includes a visit to a local apple orchard or cidery.  After your fun day of apple picking, there are plenty of opportunities to relax with a glass of fresh cider and freshly baked donuts. Trust us, there is nothing like biting into freshly picked Michigan Apples.

Michigan is the nation’s third largest producer of apples. There are more than 14.9 million apple trees covering 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms in Michigan. Our Michigan Apples are so popular that the hashtag #MIapples has thousands of posts. After you bite into a freshly picked Michigan Apple, post your favorite on our Facebook page.

History of the Michigan Apple

Amazingly, archaeologists have found evidence that people have been eating apples since at least 6500 B.C. Apples were brought over to North America by colonists in the 17th century, and in 1625, Reverend William Blaxton planted the first apple orchard on the North American continent in New England.

Additional research has shown that apple plantings were plentiful by the late 1700s in Michigan, and as quoted in the book Michigan Apples: History & Tradition by Sharon Kegerreis and Sharon Steffens-  “French Jesuit missionaries planted apple seeds in the Michigan wilderness more than a century before the travels of Johnny Appleseed. Seedlings grew into giant fruit-bearing trees that provided tangy apples to pioneers who followed. As the Detroit settlement grew, grafted apple trees were planted. By the late 1700s, orchards that bloomed with Fameuse, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Pomme Gris and Detroit Red rivaled those of New England, and even President Thomas Jefferson received scions of Detroit trees to plant at his Monticello estate.”

And because we all remember Johnny Appleseed, we must mention that John Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed) did exist and is one of the reasons why we have so many apples today. Chapman owned many tree nurseries in the Midwest in the early 1800s and sold and traded apple trees. The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apple seeds randomly everywhere he went. He planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery.

One of our member inns, the Kingsley House has a nice connection to Michigan Apples as the original builder of their inn, Harvey Judson Kinsley was known for introducing apples to the Fennville area. The Kingsley House Bed and Breakfast is just a short drive to Crane Orchards, making for a perfect home base for your Apple Picking Getaway.

Apples ready to be picked on the vine
Ready to be picked Michigan apples

Do you know your Michigan Apple varieties?

Our friends at Michigan Apples have provided this list of the most popular apples grown in Michigan, along with a short description of what makes that particular type so special.

Braeburn-These rich, spicy-flavored apples are very firm with a crisp bite. Ideal for pies and baking, they also have a good fresh-eating quality!

Cortland-A hint of tartness makes this a great baking variety, used frequently in desserts. A descendent of the McIntosh, this variety is a bit sweeter than its ancestor. Known for its white flesh and excellent flavor.

Empire- An excellent lunchbox apple or crunch snack! Sweet and tart at the same time. Use for fresh-cut slices, candy, and caramel apples. Also used in baking. Texture remains very firm, a good storing apple. Popular in Great Britain.

Evercrisp-A newer apple variety, EverCrisp® is sweet, juicy, and firm. It stores well and is long-lasting. Packs a powerful crunch.

Fugi-New to Michigan’s apple line-up, Fuji is Japan’s favorite apple for good reason! Fantastic sweet and tart flavor with low acid content. An incredibly good keeper, Fuji stays crisp for weeks!

Gala– Talk about a great apple: Crisp, snappy bite over a mellow sweetness. Michigan’s 3rd most popular apple for fresh eating or cooking. Looks great, smells sweet, and eats like a dream!

Ginger Gold– This sweet-spicy apple has a succulent texture and rich taste. A cross between the Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin, this early-season variety is best served fresh. Its mildly tart flavor gets the Michigan autumn apple harvest off to an exciting start.

Golden Delicious– A gingery-smooth, sweet taste treat lies under a thin skin. The most popular yellow apple, Goldens, may be eaten fresh or cut up in salads. Professional’s choice for applesauce or cider, baking pies, and other desserts.

Honeycrisp-This apple is hot! And mighty crisp. Combines unusual color and excellent sweet flavor with a great bite. Use it for fresh eating, fresh-cut slices, or cut up in salads.

Ida Red- Suits your every use! Eat fresh or for cooking. The taste is both tangy and tart. The flesh is white, crisp, and juicy. Favored for sauces, pies, and desserts. The texture holds up well when baked.

Jonathan-Both pretty and popular! Used for fresh eating and cooking. Juicy flavor has a spicy tang that blends well with other apples. Michigan’s cooler climate produces superb Jonathans. Discovered in Woodstock, New York!

McIntosh-Classic large, round apple for eating out of hand! Ultra-juicy white flesh, lightly tart flavor, and excellent fresh apple aroma. A perky addition to salads. Excellent in applesauce and cider. Also used in pies.

Northern Spy-Intriguing name, yet this apple is a professional baker’s dream! An antique apple is still popular because of its tart, acidic properties that cook well in applesauce, pie, and other dishes. A hard apple that ripens late and stores well.

Paula Red-Don’t miss this late summer apple! Available only into October. Pleasingly tart flavor and good aroma. Great in back-to-school lunches or early season baking. Discovered in Sparta, Michigan!

Red Delicious-America’s most popular apple, known for the “five little bumps” on the bottom. Best for fresh eating and snacks. Full-flavored sweet taste, yellowish flesh, and crisp texture. Discovered over 100 years ago in Iowa.

Rome-A big, round apple right out of storybooks! Romes have a mild, sweet flavor. Most popular for baking because it holds flavor and shape well. A Southern favorite, although discovered in Ohio.

Tips for Picking your Michigan Apples

Planning and preparation are paramount for having a fun U-Pick Apple experience in Michigan. Listed below are a few tips from the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association:

  1. Plan ahead. If you enjoy a particular variety of apples, check with the farms listed in this blog for the approximate picking times.
  2. Wear sturdy clothing and good footwear,  ideally boots. A hat to shield the sun and a jacket, if it is cold, are also recommended.
  3. Plan your apple picking adventure either early or late in the day. You’ll miss the crowds, and temperatures are usually more comfortable.
  4. Respect the bees and bugs on the farm, which are an essential part of nature to pollinate the fruit. You may want to bring bug spray.
Woman in a plaid shirt apple picking
Apple picking in Michigan

Our Favorite Apple Orchards & Cider Mills in Michigan

We are sharing our favorite apple orchards and cider mills in Michigan, divided by location, and we have included direct links to the Michigan Bed and Breakfasts that are nearby. Read on to start planning your Michigan Apples Adventure!

Southeast Michigan

  • Spicer Orchards-Fenton

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Maple Cove Bed and Breakfast, Leonard
  2. Stag’s Leap Farms, Oxford
  3. Canterbury Chateau, Brighton

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Newton of Ypsilanti B&B, Yipsilanti, Mi
  2. Robyn’s Inn, Brighton

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Maple Cove Bed and Breakfast, Leonard
  2. Stag’s Leap Farms, Oxford

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Greenleaf Manor, Onsted

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Greenleaf Manor, Onsted
  2. Robyn’s Inn, Plymouth

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Roby’s Inn, Plymouth

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Leonard at Logan, Grand Rapids
  2. The Parsonage Bed and Breakfast, Grand Rapids

North Michigan 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Nordic Pineapple, St. Johns

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Presque Isle Lodge, Presque Isle

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Chateau Chantal, Traverse City
  2. Grey Hare Inn, Traverse City
  3. Spring Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast, Elk Rapids

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Ginkgo Tree, Mt. Pleasant

 

West Michigan

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Goldberry Woods Bed and Breakfast, Union Pier
  2. Victoria Resort  Bed and Breakfast & Cottages, South Haven
  3. Jade Estate Bed and Breakfast, Allegan
  4. Kalamazoo House, Kalamazoo

 

  • Nye’s Apple Barn, St. Joseph

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Goldberry Woods Bed and Breakfast, Union Pier
  2. Voyager’s Inn, Three Rivers

 

  • Ver Haze Fruit Farms and Cider Mill, Kalamazoo

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Kalamazoo House, Kalamazoo House

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. National House, Marshall
  2. Kalamazoo House, Kalamazoo

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Leonard at Logan, Grand Rapids
  2. The Parsonage Bed and Breakfast, Grand Rapids

 

Bed and Breakfasts close by:

  1. Kinsley House, Fennville
  2. Sherwood Forest, Douglas
  3. Wickwood Inn, Saugatuck
  4. Hotel Saugatuck, Saugatuck
  5. Judson Heath Colonial, Saugatuck

 

Michigan Apple Festivals

Apples typically ripen from July through Halloween, and yes, some varieties ripen early, especially in the southern areas.  Since the most popular Michigan apple varieties ripen in September and October, that is when most of the apple festivals are held.

Check out this link for updates on each town’s festivities.

Michigan communities come together to celebrate the harvests. If you plan your trip to Michigan at the right time, you can experience one of these old fashion home-town events and make your Michigan Apple Picking Holiday a wonderful memory- plus, you get to take that memory home to enjoy afterward.

Two green chairs in front of a fireplace
Wickwood Inn

Where to stay in Michigan

Michigan in the fall is a perfect time to visit. The crowds have lessened and the weather is usually picture perfect with cool lake breezes and ideal temperatures. All of our MBBA innkeepers welcome you to visit and will help you plan your Michigan Apple Picking adventure.

If you are a foodie and love to cook, check out this blog, Tastes of Fall at Michigan B&B, written last year that, includes great fall recipes shared by our innkeepers.

From all of our MBBA innkeepers, we look forward to hosting you this fall in beautiful Pure Michigan.