Posts Tagged ‘Cherries’

The Life of a Cherry Grower

Posted July 13th, 2012 in At the Farm, News in Produce, Posts

Photo by Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times. Francisco Lopez picks cherries recently at Hayden Farms in Eltopia, Franklin County, where pickers are told to gently lay, not drop, the tender fruit in a bucket to avoid bruising.

Life is not always a bowl of cherries if you are a cherry grower.  This past spring an unusual set of weather conditions all but wiped out the Red Tart Cherry crop in the Midwest.  The majority of the world’s tart cherries are grown in this region around Traverse City, Michigan.  A secondary growing area in upstate New York and Pennsylvania was affected by the same weather.  The growers and packers in this part of the country are devastated.  You can read more about the crop failure here. The cherries grown here are the traditional Cherry pie cherry. The variety is called Montmorency and they have had quite a run lately with the discovery of their fantastic health properties.  They are a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and contain melatonin for sleep.   Just as importantly they are delicious and a favorite for making lots of things in addition to pie: smoothies, quick bread, tarts and just topping Greek Yogurt adding a bit of honey for a healthy breakfast.

A similar weather phenomenon took place exactly ten years ago and here at Oregon Fruit we were faced with a serious challenge; How to supply our customers with our #1 product?  A decade ago, we found a similar tasting cherry variety grown in Poland. Although we are committed to growing and packing right here in America, we also believe in American ingenuity when it comes to making our customers happy. So we bought the Polish cherries and sold them to our customers and most everyone was satisfied.  This variety is a much deeper red than our US grown varieties, more like a fine Cabernet.  The taste is similar, though. Just the right amount of tart.

We didn’t expect to find ourselves in this situation again for another 40 years but here we are.  We have bought up all the tart cherries we can find both is the US and internationally. The prices are  high due to the limited supply but we think it will be worth it to our loyal and dedicated customers to be able to make their favorite recipes even in this rough year. Some things are just worth paying more for.

In the Northwest some of the most delicious dark sweet cherries are grown.  The growing season is short and I personally look forward to eating my weight in cherries during the fresh season.  According to the Linda Mapes of the Seattle Times “So tricky to grow, such a delectable summer treat: Washington cherry growers take another spin in the cherry casino, as they bring in the state’s most high-risk crop”.  I love the description of this grower,” Denny Hayden is packing heat: a Bluetooth in one ear, cell phone holstered on his hip — and rosary beads and holy medals in his jeans pocket.

“And if that doesn’t do it, I’ve got Tums and Excedrin,” Hayden said. “And a prayer book. And if all that fails, I have whiskey.”  The article goes on to say “For while cherry growers produce one of the state’s most valuable crops per acre, theirs also is a high-stakes harvest, a gamble in the cherry casino where an entire season’s painstaking labor — and investment — can be lost in a passing storm.”  You can read more about the harvest in Washington here.

The crop in the Northwest is coming in but it has not been without weather related trouble. However the fruit looks beautiful and the crop is large so the Washington growers will not be experiencing the pain of their Midwest compatriots at least this year.   Thanks to the efforts of these growers passionate about the fruit they harvest we will have a great canning season this year at Oregon Fruit and you will find these big, bold and beautiful treats on grocers shelves long after the fresh season is over.


What’s Better than Cherries and Chocolate?

Posted February 27th, 2012 in Healthy Eating, Healthy Tips, In the Kitchen, Posts

Some of the latest research on both of these foods has demonstrated how good they are for us. Of course we are talking about SMALL amounts of good dark chocolate, not the whole 1 lb. bag of peanut M&M’s! And everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb.

Coffee has also had some good food press and once again we have to talk about the whole moderation thing.  I don’t think anyone would recommend the 8-10 cups of coffee I typically drink in a day.  But I rationalize that I don’t have any trouble sleeping since the minute I sit down at night I am pretty much asleep and am pretty healthy all things considered. However, the fact that I talk pretty fast and move even faster most of the time could be considered annoying by those close to me.

Inspired by a coffee house drink, my friend Kitty who I met in a cooking class at the local Natural Foods Coop, had a dream about Mocha Cherry Muffins.  She suggested I make them with an all natural dark chocolate brownie mix using the pumpkin or yogurt variation so as to reduce the fat, then add some coffee and dark sweet cherries.  It sounded pretty good to me so I gave it a try.  These are REALLY GOOD!  I think she needs a notepad and paper by her bed. She might have a cook book in her dreams.

But back to the whole moderation thing….although these are good for you and low fat, please don’t eat the whole batch in one sitting.  Take them to work or share with your neighbors. They will thank you and you will thank me.


Cherry Cinnamon Rolls

Posted December 23rd, 2011 in Breakfast, Recipe

2 loaves Rhodes Bread Dough, thawed and risen

4 Tbs butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

4 tsp cinnamon

1 can Oregon Fruit Dark Sweet Cherries, drained and cut into fourths (reserve the juice for Rudolph’s Nose Cocktails!)


2 cups powdered sugar

4 Tbs milk

2 Tbs butter, melted

1/2 tsp vanilla extract



Roll each loaf into a 10×12 rectangle. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with sugar, cinnamon and cherries. Starting on the short side, roll dough up.  Cut each roll crosswise into 6 slices. Place slices on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until double in size.  Remove wrap and bake at 350 degrees  15-20 minutes.  Ice while still warm.

Icing: Combine powdered sugar, milk, butter and vanilla until smooth.

Ingredients from the Pantry AND the Farmer’s Market

Posted July 15th, 2011 in In the Kitchen, Posts

My niece Jessica is an extraordinary multitasker.  She is a twenty something married woman, in her second year residency as a primary care physician and she is VERY pregnant. She works in an urban Seattle hospital and walks to work most days. So when a photo of her fantastic fourth of July crumble showed up in my email inbox I wasn’t all that surprised that she still finds time to bake.  Her parents are foodies so she has been exposed to cooking and baking her entire life. (One of her mom’s recipes showed up here a while back:   Sour Cherry Chocolate Torte.)  I remember her in a baby backpack herself on a food and wine tour of the Napa Valley before she was eating solid food. 

I liked this recipe for a number of reasons but mostly because she combined flavors she liked and used ingredients from the local farmers market-fresh, ripe peaches as her inspiration and then had the creative thought: “hey what if I used these canned cherries that are always in my pantry? ” (or at least they better be as she is The Queen’s niece afterall!).   She took a recipe for Blueberry Oatmeal Bars from the Oregon Fruit website, made a few adaptations and the result was a delicious and beautiful summer crumble.  As a physician, Jessica is very aware of the importance of eating a good diet but she still likes dessert.  The addition of fruit, particularly dark fruit, packs an antioxidant punch and allows you to add very little sugar.  The oatmeal helps include some whole grains. 

I suspect the baby might be born with a few crumbs on her chin or at least a healthy apetite.  Happy nesting!

Grillin’ Season!

Posted May 30th, 2011 in Holiday, Posts

Memorial Day marks the start of grilling season all across the country. Although here in California we grill all year round even if we have to stand outside in a parka under an umbrella we just got to have our BBQ. And this Memorial Day weekend that is pretty much the situation. It has been unseasonably cold and in the local mountains of Lake Tahoe it is STILL SNOWING! I went to an outdoor concert on Friday night which is usually a great idea in late May, sometimes it can even be seriously hot but not this year. I was forced to get up and dance to Boz Scaggs just to stay warm! (ok maybe not FORCED…) But today it is warm enough, 70 degrees and that is good enough to break out the grill.

A few weeks ago I watched Cat Cora battle with another young Greek chef on Iron Chef America. They both made a version of lamb with cherries and I thought it looked amazing. In honor of my Greek heritage and because I just went to a local Greek festival and had some fantastic grilled lamb on Friday night, I decided to try my hand at Lamb Skewers with Cherries and Baby Bella Mushrooms. Cat won battle and the judges really like the fact that she paired the mushrooms with the cherries. The earthiness of the mushrooms plays well with the sweetness of the cherries and in my opinion the traditional Greek marinade of lemon, garlic and oregano was perfect.

I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy some time with friends and/or family taking a moment to remember those who keep us safe here in America.    Happy start to summer!

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