Enjoy Michigan cherries and berries!

Summer in Michigan means that berry season is in full swing! Though there are many great fruits and veggies grown right here at home, seasonal highlights always include our beloved berries and cherries. These fruits are great to enhance the flavors of other foods or add a refreshing kick to any meal.

With Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival right around the corner, it’s also a great time to educate yourself on just how berries and cherries can benefit your health.

In case you’re not aware of some of Michigan’s best berries and cherries, here’s a quick breakdown of a few different varieties and what they can provide for your health:

  • Blueberries– July marks National Blueberry Month celebrating these little blue fruits packed with antioxidants and healthy vitamins. Be sure to visit some blueberry festivals in Michigan to gather and gobble your own selection of blueberries too.
  • Gooseberries- these berries are known for their high calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin B contents. They’ve been said to taste like a combination of a grape, fig and apricot, but usually look more like a red or green grape, depending on ripeness.
  • Huckleberries- similar in appearance to blueberries, these little gems are a smaller and sweeter alternative. Huckleberries ripen late in the summer, typically starting in late July
  • Tart cherries– tart cherries come in many different forms be it dried, frozen or canned. Drinking tart cherry juice has many health benefits such as regulating blood pressure and helping prevent cancer.
  • Rainer cherries– These cherries contain a unique, peachy color with a sweet, less tart taste. They are grown throughout the U.S., but are especially prevalent in Traverse City.

If you know your berry preference already, here are some new ideas for using them in delicious dishes:

  • Smoothies– mix in pitted cherries or berries to your favorite smoothies for a tart kick. Topping your favorite smoothie with dried cherries is a tasty way to end your drink too.
  • Salads– toss in dried or raw berries or cherries to a salad. They do especially well balancing the flavors of nuts and other crunchy toppings.
  • Sauces– cook a cherry glaze or sauce for your entrée’s topping. Pork and chicken do especially well in these cases.
  • Breakfast– whole grain pancakes taste great with fresh berries or cherries mixed in and oatmeal tastes delicious when topped with dried fruit.
  • Veggie combinations-doesn’t sound quite right, but making the same old semi-bland veggies alone (broccoli, carrots and celery) can get dull. Sweeten up flavors by intermixing berries or cherries for a different combination.

There are many locations throughout the state to pick up berries and cherries at your local farmers market or heading out into the field to pick your own. Check out both to see why Michigan berries and cherries are special to the state. What’s your favorite way to enjoy these sweet, nutritious fruits?

Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan

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