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Posted on Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

Apple cider and sauce lovers visit Pittsfield Grange's Apple Day

By Lisa Carolin


Bill Lutz, who owns Lutz Apple Orchard in Saline, sells apples from the bed of his truck at Saturday's Apple Day at the Pittsfield Grange. Lutz said this year's apple harvest has been good for most varieties.

Lisa Carolin | For

It's the first Saturday of autumn and Michigan apples are in abundance. That's evident today at the Pittsfield Union Grange on Ann Arbor-Saline Road where Apple Day is being celebrated until 4 p.m. The big draw are the apple presses that are being used to make apple cider.

"These apples are no good for anything else, so I'm making cider to get some use out of them," said John Loechli, who was injecting some muscle as he turned the press. "This cider is actually good. It has no preservatives and will last a couple of months."

For Webster Township resident Alison Holmes, the goal is to let the cider ferment in her basement for the next four months to let it turn into hard cider.

"I'll be testing it periodically," she said. "I just really like hard cider."

"Michigan is a big apple state, and there are lots of small orchards around here," said Joan Hellmann, president of the Pittsfield Union Grange, which has close to 50 members and is the only grange in Washtenaw County. "Apple Day is our major event. It's nice to buy your food from people you know."


After the juice of the apple is removed with the press, it is strained on its way to becoming cider.

Lisa Carolin | For

Richard Raymond, treasurer of the Grange, was pleased with the number of people who came to Apple Day.

"There aren't many old time farmers left," said Raymond. "We want to let people know where their food comes from."

Kara Johansen and her family are Ann Arbor residents who like to participate in food preparation.

"We picked our apples at Wasem's (Fruit Farm in Milan) earlier this week," she said. "We prepare a lot of our food from scratch and enjoy the process."

Some of today's participants sampled freshly made applesauce.

"I cut out the core and cook the apples for an hour, then mash them with a potato masher," said Debbie Johnson, who was doing a demonstration. "My mom used to make apple sauce and this brings back fond memories."

"These are traditional fall activities to do as a group," said Lisa Bashert, a beekeeper for the Ypsilanti Food Co-op. "More and more people are gleaning, meaning getting food from rental properties and abandoned orchards rather than letting it go to waste."

Many of the apples in use at the Grange today are feral apples from all over Washtenaw County. Amadeaus Scott knows a lot about the apple trees that abound in the county as well as the history of the state's apple harvest.

"I have an apple museum, which is set up in the Grange's dance hall today and will be at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market in October," said Scott, who calls herself the museum's curator, director and janitor.

Also coming up in October is a program about learning to preserve apples that will be at the Grange on October 2. For more information, go to



Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:50 a.m.

Mr. Lutz rents trees too. We're planning to head to his orchard tomorrow, with ladders, picking pole, and picking bags, to fill up the back of the car with apples from one of his trees. It's a great annual family activity, and the apples are terrific. The only problem is what to do with all the apples! Better get the root cellar started up...

Jim and Janice Leach

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

Making cider today at the Pittsfield Grange was a blast! I even enjoyed waiting in line and watching other people make their cider. When our turn came, it was great fun to send our apples through the crusher and then squish them in the cider press. We made a little more than a gallon of fresh cider. My family got a kick out of how happy it all made me! I had bought apple seconds at the Farmers' Market this morning: a 1/2 a peck of cortland apples and a 1/2 peck of empire for $3.75 each and used most of those. (I buy seconds for eating and cooking throughout the fall). I also bought a peck of cider apples at the Grange for $3.00, as advertised. Next year, I'll probably get all my apples at the Grange. Other people brought their apples from trees at home. It wasn't cheap cider but it was completely fascinating and fun!


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

I wonder what the prices for apples are. So far this year, I've only seen one sale at Meijer a couple weeks ago on local apples, the little ones in the 3# plastic bags for $2.00 each. That only lasted one week and now those same 3# bags of tiny apples (2.5" diameter) are $3.50-4.50 each at Meijer, Kroger, etc. The normal size apples (larger) are only sold by the pound in area grocery stores and are still far too expensive for this time of year ($1.49-1.99/pound). A normal size apple runs 3/4 - 1 pound each, so you end up paying $1.00 or more PER apple. Outrageous for this time of year in MI. I wonder what the prices were at the Grange.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Try the market on Wednesdays or Saturdays.

information please

Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 11:08 p.m.

$3 a peck, reads the sign on the truck in the photo.


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Grange? The Ann Arbor area has a Grange? That's so cool.

joan hellmann

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Yes. Our meetings are usually the second Wednesday of the month (not Dec), with a potluck at 6:30 and a program on some interesting topic at 7:15. Free and everyone is welcome. We also sponsor a contra dance on the third Saturday night, a family dance (children with adults) on the third Sunday afternoon (not Dec), and a Preserving Traditions - a food custom program - usually on the fist Sunday afternoon. See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> for more info.


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

Nice story about a traditional Washtenaw County activity and decent people gathering during a lovely fall day and producing their own hands a variety of foods, drinks and spirits for family consumption. It's rather refreshing to read about the peaceful ways of the past and people wanting to keep it alive. Stay with the stories exploring the lives of ordinary people keeping close to their communities and heritage. In a few months Alison Holmes will be sipping her cider while watching the flakes fly. That's a nicer thought than most stories in the news these days.