One Cheboygan farm accounts for three-quarters of Michigan’s crop
By Rich Adams
I had the pleasure to live in Cheboygan for 10 years as editor of the Cheboygan Daily Tribune. You could not ask for a more picturesque location with friendlier people.
Cheboygan is known for its water (two of the Great Lakes, Michigan and Huron, meet to form the Mackinac Straits there, not to mention the 38-mile inland waterways of which Mullett Lake is part), its U.S. Coast Guard cutter between Mackinaw and … cranberries.
Cheboygan is home to the Michigan Cranberry Co., which boasts the largest cranberry marsh in Michigan. Owner Wally Huggett noted that his 200-acre operation produces three-quarters of the state’s cranberries.
A popular local tour is to visit the farm, located outside the city of Cheboygan on Alpena State Road. Tour buses deposit visitors at the farm during harvest, where harvesters are chest-deep in water wrangling the harvested floating cranberries to conveyer belts, which deposits them in waiting trucks. It was quite interesting to watch.
Michigan Cranberry Co. products can be found in most grocery stores in the state. My lovely wife – a Cheboygan native – won’t use anything else that was not homegrown, so to speak. While the lion’s share of the farm’s product goes to processors and packers in the United States, the farm has supplied cranberries to Asia, Australia, East and West Europe, and Canada.
So when you sit down to a Thanksgiving feast with all of the traditional side dishes, your cranberry “sauce” doesn’t have to look like it just slid out of a can. Here’s a recipe that uses two Michigan crops – cranberries and apples – from the recipe book of Culinary Hill.
HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH APPLES
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries picked over
1 cup cooking apples peeled and diced (Michigan Empire or Ida Red are good choices)
In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, cinnamon and salt to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
Stir in cranberries and apples. Simmer until slightly thickened and the berries begin to pop, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.