TRAVERSE CITY — Beryl Striewski moved to northern Michigan from Texas, where “local” fruit and vegetables meant watermelons and tomatoes.
So she revels in northern Michigan’s growing season, using the bounty in cooking and canning, and writing a food blog called Traverse City Locavore. She said her favorite fruit is cherries, but peaches are a close second.
“I try to pick a half bushel, minimum,” she said, adding that her favorite u-pick farms include Buchan’s and Elzer Farm, both on Old Mission Peninsula.
Peak peach season in the region will arrive this weekend, said Steve Fouch, a retired Michigan State University Extension educator and an owner of Jacob’s Corn Maze and Farm on M-72 west of Traverse City. The season started two weeks behind last year’s, which was unusually early, but will end up more or less on target thanks to this week’s hot weather.
“We’re kind of halfway normal this year,” Fouch said. “Usually early varieties come on mid-August and the season runs to early September in our region.”
Besides the perennial customer favorite, Red Haven peaches, the farm offers early, late and unusual u-pick and we-pick varieties including Saturn, an odd-shaped white-flesh peach.
“It’s shaped like a doughnut and it’s flat like a flying saucer,” Fouch said. “You can eat around the pit and you don’t get all juicy and messy.”
With such a short growing season, Striewski gets to work early, canning peaches, peach butter and peach compote made with a sugar water syrup. The professional photographer said she uses the peach butter as a low-calorie alternative to jam on toast and as a sandwich spread, adding it to sliced turkey and Swiss cheese for a “spicy, yummy” kick. A lot of the peach butter also winds up as Christmas gifts.