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An apple a day is a sweet treat

Published 9:35am Friday, September 11, 2009

Veni's famous candy apples are back. Pictured from left, Lacey Lary, Alyssa Pingel, owner Linda Skwarcan and Amanda Pingel. (Daily Star photo/JESSICA SIEFF)
Veni's famous candy apples are back. Pictured from left, Lacey Lary, Alyssa Pingel, owner Linda Skwarcan and Amanda Pingel. (Daily Star photo/JESSICA SIEFF)

Niles Daily Star

It is one of the sweetest signs of the fall season.

And one of the most lucrative crops for the state of Michigan.

According to the Michigan Apples Committee, state growers this year “are anticipating one of the best crops in recent history.”

“With an estimated annual contribution of over $700 million to the state’s economy, the Michigan apple industry is a bright spot in the state. Our growers will produce more than 26 million bushels of apples this year, accounting for the third largest apple production in the United States,” said Denise Donohue, executive director of Michigan Apples Committee.

Those apples will no doubt find their way into countless homes in by way of apple pie, apple sauce, hot apple cider, apple cake or apple butter.

As the leaves begin to change their color, the kids are back in school and the holidays are just around the corner – apples certainly are in demand.

Here in Niles, the shift in seasons means many will be getting ready for the upcoming Apple Festival.

And, down on Main Street, it’s official – those candy apples are back at Veni’s Sweet Shop.

Owner, Linda Skwarcan said she estimates the shop sold 9,000 candy apples last year. And this year, she said “we’re expecting to sell thousands and thousands.”

Skwarcan’s Michigan grown apples make their way to the front of the sweet shop’s counter drenched in sweet caramel, the scent hanging in the air.

They’re rolled in nuts with or without a drizzle of chocolate or left traditionally plain.
Veni’s just started preparing the apples and Skwarcan said, “right now we are making about 40 per day.” Within a the next couple of weeks, that number will increase to about 100.

In addition to the three main types of candy apples Veni’s puts out, Skwarcan said she and the crew at Veni’s is happy to make them by request.

For customers, they’ve made peanut brittle, coconut and even toffee apples.

What makes them so popular among customers?  “Our caramel recipe is better than anyone else,” Skwarcan said.

Veni’s is just one of many businesses throughout the state that benefit from one of its most popular crops.

According to the Michigan Apples Committee:

• Apples are Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop with a “farm gate” value to the growers of about $100 million annually.

• There are over 7.5 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 37,500 acres on 950 family-operated farms throughout Michigan’s lower peninsula.

• On average Michigan harvests about 20 million bushels (800 million pounds) of apples per year. This year’s crop projection is at 26 million bushels, one of the largest in recent history.

For apple growers, it promises to be a pretty sweet season.

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