Michigan Bucket List: Michigan Cider Mills
| 4 min read
As summer gives way to fall, it’s time for a visit to a cider mill to enjoy apple picking, fresh-made apple cider and cinnamon donuts.
Michigan has a lot of cider mills, which isn’t surprising considering that the state ranks third in the U.S. for apple production. More than 50 varieties of apples are grown in the Mitten State, with Honeycrisp and Galas the most in demand. More than 14.9 million apple trees are in commercial production in Michigan, covering 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Michigan apples are available nearly year-round from August to June.
This year, the state’s apple industry expects to harvest 32 million bushels of apples, or about1.3 billion pounds. That’s coming off a record last year of 32.38 million bushels, which was a nearly 35% increase over the average harvest of 24 million bushels. The uptick is credited to favorable weather during the spring and summer growing seasons. About half of each year’s harvest is sold fresh at farmers markets, grocery stores or through U-pick operations, while the rest is processed, frozen, or used in other products, according to the Michigan Apple Committee.
It’s why finding a cider mill near you should be on your Michigan Bucket List this fall.
Big health benefits
In addition to being delicious, apples are nutrient-dense fruits. They deliver fiber, vitamin C, copper, potassium and vitamin K. Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols, an important group of antioxidants. To get the most out of apples, leave the skin on, because it contains half the fruit’s fiber and most of the polyphenols.
Find Fun at Cider Mills
Most of Michigan’s apple orchards are in the western part of the state along the coast of Lake Michigan, but they can be found throughout the state. West Michigan’s Fruit Ridge is an orchard-rich area that stretches 20 miles across Kent, Newaygo, Muskegon and Ottawa counties. It features a temperate climate and soil composition ideal for growing fruit. To fully enjoy apple season, find a cider mill close to you. Apple orchards are the perfect location to create autumn traditions and enjoy time together.
Blake’s Farm, 61475 Silver Lake Road, Lyon Township. This 800-acre farm grows over 40 different apple varieties. It also has a play area, tasting room and hard cider production facility.
Dexter Cider Mill, 3685 Central St., Dexter. Family-owned and operated since 1886, this is the state’s oldest continuously operating cider mill.
Franklin Cider Mill, 7450 Franklin Road, Bloomfield Township. For more than 80 years, this cider mill has been serving warm donuts and cold cider.
Diehl’s Orchard & Cider Mill, 1479 Ranch Road, Holly. This family-owned and operated orchard and cider mill also features a corn maze, petting farm, playground and hayrides.
Two K Farms Cidery and Winery, 3872 S. West Bay Shore Drive, Suttons Bay. Located on the Leelanau Peninsula, this farm dating back to 1865 is nestled in a valley that has a unique microclimate for growing heirloom apples. Its tasting room with hard ciders offers panoramic views of the West Grand Traverse Bay, Power Island and beyond.
Friske Orchards Farm Market, 10743 U.S. 31, Ellsworth. This orchard produces about 50,000 gallons of premium apple cider blends each year. It has a cafe, bakery and general store, along with a play area and petting zoo for kids.
Knaebe’s Apple Farm and Ciderworks, 2621 S. Karsten Road, Rogers City. This cider farm serves cider donuts, fresh-pressed cider, apples, wood-fired pizza, hard cider and microbrews.
Anderson & Girls Orchards, 2985 N. Sheridan Road, Stanton. This orchard has a farm market, bakery, ice cream parlor and gift loft. The cider mill operates through November. It also features animals that are rarely seen in Michigan outside of zoos, including reindeer, camels, zebras, lemurs and more.
The Fruitful Orchard and Cider Mill, 5740 M-61, Gladwin. This orchard offers cider slushies, made-from-scratch baked goods, salsa and sauces as well as candles and gifts. There’s even an observation area to see cider pressing in action.
Almar Orchards and Cidery, 1431 Duffield Road, Flushing. This 300-acre family-run farm grows more than 50 varieties of apples and sells the top-quality varieties in their store. The store stocks farm-made apple cider, award-winning hard cider and unique drinking vinegars. Almar Orchards is one of the largest organic farms east of the Rocky Mountains.
Schwallier’s Country Basket, 1185 9 Mile Road NW, Sparta. This 80-acre apple orchard and farm market sits in the heart of West Michigan’s Fruit Ridge, north of Grand Rapids. It also features a giant corn maze, petting farm, cow train and wagon rides.
Crane Orchards U-Pick & Corn Maze, 6054 124th Avenue, Fennville. This farm dates back to the 1880s. In addition to more than 20 varieties of apples to pick, visitors can also explore an enormous corn maze and hayride.
Jollay Orchards, 1850 Friday Road, Coloma. The Jollay family has been perfecting the craft of growing fruit since 1857. You can take a hayride heading to the U-pick orchards, stroll through the animal farm or cornfield maze, cast your line in the fishing pond or let the kids enjoy the playground area.
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