For the past several years, our family has made a tradition of cherry picking at Hobart's on Father's Day. This year, however, since we didn't make it to the farm I decided to take a trip down memory lane (with photos from a previous excursion) instead.
Our favorite Pick Your Own (PYO!) cherry farm is located in the heart of Leona Valley in Palmdale, California. The family owned farm welcomes city pickers like ourselves during cherry season June through July.
For sweet cherries go in June, sour pick in July.
Although we have a fondness for Hobarts, the non-profit website, PickYourOwn.org provides a list of places cherry seekers can grab a bucket and get busy.
What you pick is what you pay for. Your bucket will be weighed when you are done foraging for fruit -and (speaking from experience) you may want to keep an eye on the kid's buckets. It's easy to get carried away...
Every now and then, you should probably taste one to determine the sweetness...right?
A couple of years ago, in search of a good cherry crumble recipe, I discovered Martha Stewart's Sour-Cherry Pistachio Crisp. Since I liked the way the recipe sounded and felt confident it was something I could attempt, I ignored the fact it asked specifically for 'sour' cherries and blazed ahead.
There are those who may be shaking their heads at this, but sometimes ignorance really is bliss -and the crisp turned out so well I have been making it with whatever cherries I have on hand ever since!
A couple of tips, invest in a good cherry pitter (or two or three) -and get the kids involved in helping! Dress them in something you don't mind getting stained and situate them outside if possible. Go ahead and pour yourself a glass of wine while you wait... It takes them a while to figure out that the task is actually work disguised by gadgets and cherries and by then, you should have what you need...I love summer!
By the time you've driven out to the cherry farm, paid for lunch (or picnicked!), bought several buckets of cherries, cold drinks, and ice cream for a job well done -you realize that buying fruit from the store is probably cheaper.
It's what you won't find at the market, however, that is priceless.
Martha Stewart's Sour-Cherry Pistachio Crisp
- 1 3/4 pounds pitted fresh or frozen sour cherries
- 1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
- 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Pinch of ground, cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using frozen cherries, spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature until cherries have thawed almost completely but still hold their shape, about 30 minutes. Drain off any accumulated liquid.
- Whisk together the pistachios, flour, oats, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until creamy.
- Stir pistachio mixture into butter mixture until just combined. Work mixture through your fingers until it forms coarse crumbs ranging in size from small peas to gum balls; set topping aside.
- Stir together cherries, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the cornstarch, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Transfer cherry mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over cherry mixture. Bake until topping turns golden and juices are bubbling, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool on a wire rack 1 hour before serving.