In the drowsy, breezy summerWith flies buzzing around our heads
We watch, with cherry-stained lips and fingertips
As days go by in a whirl of color
Cherry Monger at the Napa Downtown Farmers Market
It is hard to pick something quintessential about Summer, so many images, memories, smells and foods come to mind. Cherries for me mean Summer, they are the most decadent fruit, requiring lots of effort to eat, and the fact that I keep eating and eating and eating them, such pleasure with little consequence, the perfect food. I gave some fresh Rainier Cherries to a baby I watched yesterday, he was very interested in what I was eating. I cut up the Cherry into small pieces so he would not choke. He eagerly put a slice into his mouth, started to mash it about his tongue, his eyes opened widely, then he chewed more quickly, and begged for more. This darling child has forever been transformed by the taste of a real Cherry, I hope he never settles for the bleached corn syrup laden red dye number 4 variety. This is the kind of "corruption" I hope happens to all children, that they only are exposed to the delights of real food, forever ruined and rejecting of all petroleum based objects that pass for food in name only. I have often called myself the Biodynamic Vampire, that I bite farmers and turn them, now I will be the Fruit Bat Vampire, shamelessly feeding children behind their parents backs, heirloom varieties of fruits and turning them over to the "real" side forever..........
On the program today, I spoke of several Cherries on the Slow Food Ark of Taste http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/pagine/eng/arca/cerca.lasso?-id_pg=36#risultati.
The one that most intrigued me was the Black Republican Cherry, mainly because the words Black and Republican often denote an unusual combination, but the story is really incredible.
This beautiful cherry is the forerunner of the famous Bing Cherry, that was cultivated and named after a Chinese Cherry Orchard Farmer Ah Bing. The Black Republican Cherry is smaller and hardly grown anymore, but we hope to change that with education about the Slow Food Ark of Taste. They almost look like olives they are so black! The link above tells you where you can find them and grow them if you wish!
Here are some great recipes for fresh Cherries!
Now that we are nearing peak Cherry season, or in some cases near the end, the markets are flooded with these fruits. The prices will be better now, so buy some flats and do something with them. One of the easiest and least caloric offerings is to freeze them and use later in anything from a smoothly to baked goods. The best investment you will ever make in terms of cherries is a cherry pitter. Available widely anywhere you can imagine, (I bought mine at Target,) this low tech solar powered machine will occupy adolescents for hours, it is also a great way to involve partners in making of the best cherry pie you will ever eat. After a real cherry pie, you will never go back to the neon red cans of cornstarch laden goop again, those are reserved for horror house effects before Halloween, but make sure not to expose the stuff too long on painted surfaces, who knows, the color might never wash off or it will eat away at the paint.
These can also be great for pitting olives as well.
You can aim the pits at people you want to annoy, it is really cathartic, sort of like low tech natural paint ball guns. Caution, avoid eyes, nostrils and ears
Make sure you check the cherries for pits, sometimes they hide, and unless you have great dental insurance or a dentist in the family, pits are known to crack unsuspecting teeth.
How to Freeze Cherries
Start with fresh ripe cherries, pit them. Cover a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper, layer the cherries on the sheet, evenly. Freeze for several hours or over night. When frozen, place cherries in a freezer container or zip lock freezer bag. They are good for six months.
Cherry Jalapeno Salsa
1 cup pitted and chopped Bing Cherries, 1 small fresh Jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1 tsp fruity olive oil, 1 tbsp fresh lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Mix together and let macerate for several hours before serving. Excellent on pork or fish.
Fresh Rainier Cherry Crisp
Place 4 cups pitted Rainier Cherries, 3/4 cups organic cane sugar, 4 tbsp organic pastry flour and 1/2 tsp Almond Extract and 1/2 tsp ground Cardamom into a mixing bowl, stir until cherries are evenly coated with sugar and flour.
In a separate bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour, 1 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, 3/4 cup brown sugar, until well blended, cut in 1 cup chilled and cubed unsalted butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter until it is well incorporated into the dry mixture.
Place prepared cherries into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, sprinkle crisp topping over the cherries, and place into a pre heated 374 degree oven. Bake 40 - 50 minutes or until topping is golden brown.