May 2011 Issue
My Ohio Recipes: Three Cheers for Cherries
Locally grown Ohio cherries make a sweet ending to a summer meal.
It’s that time of year when many of your favorite farm products are coming into season. Ohio Farm Bureau members (and that includes consumers like you) have unique access to information about Ohio food and farms through the Our Ohio consumer brand.
In just about a month, a number of Ohio farms will be selling cherries at their own farm markets. At some farms, customers can get into the act by picking the fruit right from the tree. Ohio produce growers offer many “pick your own” opportunities for those who want a hands-on experience with their food.
One such orchard is owned and operated by Ohio Farm Bureau members Rich and Betty Eshleman from Sandusky County. The Eshleman Fruit Farm features 20 acres of cherries (80 more in apples and another 100 in stone fruits such as peaches, apricots and plums), each one picked by hand. Last year, the seasonal crew of 30 picked 10 tons — or 20,000 pounds — of cherries during the fruit’s short harvest and shipped them throughout northern Ohio.
The cherries at the top of the tree ripen first and are picked, leaving the rest in arm’s reach for Eshleman’s you-pick customers, who fill their baskets with Emperor Francis Sweet, a light-colored variety for eating and canning, and Rainier, a premium dark and juicy variety.
Ready, Set, Pick
Eshleman Fruit Farm in Clyde offers pick-your-own opportunities, beginning with cherries in June and continuing through the growing season with apricots, berries, plums, peaches and, beginning in late July, many varieties of apples.
Sweet cherries will be ready for picking June 20–July 15. These include black, Emperor and Rainier varieties. Tart cherries are available July 3–15. Weather can alter the growing season, so sign up for the farm’s e-mail updates at eshlemanfruitfarm.com
, or send your mailing address to receive an information letter.
Eshleman Fruit Farm
753 E. Maple (St. Rte. 101, one mile north of St. Rte. 20), Clyde 43410.
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m.
For information on where to purchase cherries and all other types of Ohio products, visit OurOhio.org and
look for the Buying Local Directory for a listing of Ohio Farm Bureau
members who are selling local farm products directly to consumers
The following recipes are provided by Ohio food writer Marilou Suszko and are featured in the May edition of Our Ohio
magazine. To learn how to receive Our Ohio magazine, visit GrowWithFB.org.
Apricot and Cherry Compote over Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Apricots and cherries ripen about the same time, so pairing them makes perfect sense. Enjoy over ice cream, yogurt or some fresh ricotta cheese.
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 fresh bay leaves (or 2 large dried)
3 wide strips orange zest
3 wide strips lemon zest
6 fresh apricots, halved and pitted
1 pound sweet cherries, pitted
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Place the sugar, water, bay leaves and zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat without stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the apricots and cherries in a glass bowl. Toss with the lemon juice. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil again and pour over the fruits, tossing gently to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
To serve, spoon over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, garnish with a mint leaf and serve with a sugar cookie.
Sour Cherry Torte
Makes 8 servings
4 cups pitted tart or sour cherries
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-½ teaspoons baking powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Confectioner’s sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cherries and 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Set aside, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the cherries and juice into a fine mesh sieve and let the juice drain into a saucepan. Remove about ¼ cup of the juice from the pan and mix it with the tablespoon of cornstarch. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Add the cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from the heat. Let cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the cherries.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining cup of sugar, the flour and baking powder. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Mix in the eggs. Press half of the mixture in a 9-inch springform pan. Spoon the cherries over the top. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top of the cherries and press down lightly.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is pale golden and the torte shrinks slightly away from the sides of the pan. Let cool for one hour before removing the springform.
Dust with powdered sugar, slice and serve.
Here are some pointers for using fresh-from-the orchard cherries.
If you’re looking for an easy way to tackle the big job of pitting a lot of cherries for a recipe, grab a paper clip. Small but mighty, it makes a tedious job much easier. Open the paper clip into the shape of an ‘S.’ Push one end of the clip into the stem end of the cherry, give it a little twist and pop out the pit. Quicker and more efficient than a hand held cherry pitter, this method doesn’t punch a hole all the way through the cherry so more of the juice stays intact.
To freeze sour cherries, take 4 cups of pitted cherries and mix with 1 cup of sugar. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Pack the cherries and juice in quart freezer bags and freeze for up to one year.
Marilou Suszko is a food writer from Vermilion. She is the author of
Farms and Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate.