new michigan products for autumn
I know autumn officially has arrived in Michigan by the smell of the air. You know that incomparable crispness that makes you question whether the mugginess of summer ever actually happened? That woodsy aroma of just-fallen leaves beginning to dry out? That tinge of chill that has you reaching for jean jackets and warm beverages? That faint wisp of sweetness filling the air from the recent harvest of apples, pumpkins, and squash? In my humble opinion, this is the time when Michigan is at its best.
Coinciding with these new beginnings comes a wave of autumn products hitting the deli retail shelves this month. And, the best news of all, not only do these products highlight fall ingredients and flavors, but they are all produced right here in Michigan. So for all of you foodies out there itching to taste the best flavors of fall, here is my abridged list of must-try products this month.
Kapnick Orchard Apple Cider: There is nothing I crave more on a crisp autumn day than to warm up with a steaming hot cup of apple cider. Fortunately for all of you fellow cider-heads out there, Zingerman’s Next Door will be offering Michigan’s own Kapnick Orchard’s unpasteurized cider all month long. Full-bodied and just sweet enough, this cider is the perfect base for a whole number of creative add-ons. Like your cider toasty and spicy? Make it a chai-der by adding a bag of chai tea. More partial to super-sweet? Add a splash of caramel syrup. Or if you’re a purist at heart, try my personal favorite: Simply steamed with a little fresh made vanilla whipped cream.
American Spoon Apple Butter: As someone who has developed a recent love of jam making, fruit butters are a new product on my radar. Yes, I had tasted a pumpkin butter here or a cherry butter there, but, to be completely honest, I was never entirely sure of what fruit butter actually was, let alone how to use it. However, with the recent addition of American Spoon Apple Butter to the deli shelves, I have developed a newfound appreciation. Most traditional fruit butters are simply fruit and bit of sugar cooked down until they reach a paste-like/buttery texture. What I love about the American Spoon apple butter is the omission of sugar. Apples, cinnamon, and a bit of lemon juice are all that go into these jars and the result is nothing short of fabulous. Texturally, this spread is closer to a finely pureed applesauce, with a flavor that is pure fall at its best. Besides just eating it straight out the jar (which I resort to more often than not) I’ve found apple butter to be a delicious pairing with hearty cheddars, ice cream, or a good chunky peanut butter for an amped-up pb&j.
Great Lakes Cheshire: For a cheese seller at Zingerman’s Deli, there are a million and one cheeses to learn about. Soft, semi-soft, hard. Goat, cow, sheep milk. Pasteurized, unpasteurized. The knowledge is endless and the list ever growing. So you can bet that choosing one must-try cheese this fall proved rather difficult. In the end, I took the simple route and stuck close to home with none other than a Zingerman’s cheese, the Great Lakes Cheshire. As the only hard format cheese in Zingerman’s Creamery’s current repertoire, this cheese is a stand out with a creamy, yet slightly flaky texture and faint notes of citrus and grass. Given its pleasant mildness, this cheese makes an excellent fall snacking cheese on its own or paired with a slice of apple, bold mustards, or a delicate honey. Pair away and enjoy!
Westwind Bread: A true Michigan product, and a bread star that deserves more recognition. Made with Michigan-milled whole-wheat flour (out of the Westwind Mill in Linden, MI, hence the name) and a bit of sourdough starter, this bread is the epitome of a rustic, satisfying wheat bread. Given the limited availability of flour from the mill, this bread is only available at the deli on Mondays and Fridays. But if you have the chance to stop in and pick up a loaf, you will not be disappointed. Not only is it ideal sandwich bread, it’s a perfect vehicle for trying out the other products I’ve mentioned. My personal favorite preparation: toasted up with a smear of farm butter. Doesn’t get much better than that.
I hope that all of you will find as much joy in these products as I have. And, more importantly, that they help you explore the best of what fall and Michigan have to offer.