I’ve been a little U-pick crazy this summer, but that’s because fruit picked right off the tree is so much better. If you haven’t had fruit (or veggies) plucked right from a plant, then you don’t know what fruit is supposed to taste like. It hasn’t been sitting around in cold storage for months. It hasn’t arrived on a freight car from a thousand miles away, or more.
It’s August, and that means it’s peach picking time in Michigan. Fresh peaches, like any fresh fruit or veggie, have an intensity of flavor that grocery store peaches don’t have. They taste really peachy, not vaguely peach-like.
If you were to drive the country roads of southwest Michigan, you’d find no shortage of roadside fruit stands selling fresh-picked peaches, among other fruits and veggies. My goal last week, however, was to pick my own. Plucking fruit from a tree is more fun that choosing them from a basket. You get to walk around a farm. And it’s cheap! I paid 99 cents a pound for Red Havens at Stover’s U-Pick in Berrien Springs.
It seems you can pick just about anything at Stover’s—blackberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, grapes, peaches…. You could probably show up every weekend from spring through fall and find some new variety to pick.
It didn’t take long to pick 11 pounds of Red Havens, so I headed over to the early Macs and picked a couple pounds of those at 25 cents a pound. They’re not as sweet as they will be later in the season, but they’ll make for some good applesauce, with a little Calvados for fun.
Other places to visit in Southwest Michigan:
Tree-mendous – This is a huge orchard with lots to pick. They’re a little pricier than Stover’s, but they have a big shop with products made from the fruits on their farm.
Bob’s Barn, Coloma – Go here just to talk to Bob. He’s the older gentleman and will undoubtedly greet you when you walk in. Bob personally showed me every single item for sale in his shop, from the homemade jams and pies to the frozen breaded chicken patties that come in small and larger boxes.