Cherry Festival is over, but the cherry season has just begun. Local cherries are the gems of the northern Michigan summer. Each year we anxiously await the arrival of the ruby fruit that brings visitors to the area, and keeps many of our businesses running.
Whether you like sweet cherries by the pound, tart cherries for your pies, dried cherries for snacking, cherry wine or cherry products, you can find it in the Cherry Capitol of the world… Traverse City.
Cherry Fun Facts
- Michigan grows 75 percent of the US crop of tart cherries, and about 20 percent of sweet cherries
- Northern Michigan is responsible for 90 percent of the state’s sweet cherry production
- There are close to 7000 cherries on the average tart cherry tree, enough for 28 pies
- The World Record for spitting a cherry pit is now 100 feet 4 inches, held by “young gun” Krauss, son of 10 time record holder “pellet gun” Krause
- It takes 100 cherries to produce an 8 oz. glass of cherry juice
- Ease arthritis pain and inflammation naturally with cherry juice, thanks to the anthocyanins, which give tart cherries their color
- Michigan cherry wine is made primarily from Montmorency cherries
- Peninsula Cellars is the only area winery to produce a white cherry wine, made from the Emperor Francis cherry
U-Pick Farms & Farm Stands
Some of my favorite childhood memories are from roaming the U-Pick farms. We’d lug around our galvanized buckets and climb the rickety old wooden ladders to carefully select the largest, juiciest, ripest cherries. When the buckets were full, or too heavy to carry, we’d know it was time to go home. It took a long swim in the lake to get rid of the purple stained fingers, but it was worth the memories.
For a list of local U-Pick farms, check out LocalDifference.org
Buy Traverse City Cherries
If you’re looking to pick up some fresh cherries on your visit up north there are plenty of options. A drive along the Old Mission or Leelanau Peninsula will offer several roadside opportunities to buy direct from the grower. And you can’t beat the scenic views along the way. Eating fresh washed cherries from a roadside stand always makes my Summer To-Do List.
For those of you who prefer your cherry products without the pits, Benjamin Twiggs in Traverse City has everything you could ever need. From cherry-themed merchandise, to cherry products of all kinds, you’ll find all your cherry dreams come true at Benjamin Twiggs, the oldest cherry purveyor in Traverse City. And they’ll even ship if you’re craving a taste of Michigan from far away.
Tips and Tricks
- Cherries with the stems attached will stay fresh longer
- To remove cherry stains from fingers and clothing try a little lemon juice, and rinse with water
- For an inexpensive cherry pit remover try placing a metal pastry tip on your finger and pushing them out. A bobby pin or a bent paper clip can be used to scoop out the pit and only leaves one hole.