This year’s crop of local strawberries has been amazing and there are still plenty of them around to pick or buy in quarts. They’re sure to be on the menu at this week’s barbecues and parties. Coming right on their heels are local sweet cherries! There’s something about eating a sun-warmed cherry straight from the tree that evokes the care-free days of summers gone by. I remember going to pick cherries at a local farm many years ago, where you could just “eat” your way through if you preferred it. They weighed you when you went in, and weighed you when you went out, and charged you for what you packed in. We always chose to pick a lasting supply to take home to the city, but it was impossible not to taste a cherry or three while in the orchards! My absolute favorite cherries are the big, dark ox heart variety, quickly reduced to a pile of pits and stems when they appear.
We are so fortunate in this country to have regular shipments of food from all over the world in our markets, but far more fortunate to be living in the midst of farm country. Today, more than ever, it’s important to support our local farmers. They are truly on the endangered species list!
Yes, sweet cherries of all varieties are ripe for the picking over the next month and sour cherries will be here soon. Picking them yourself is easier these days with dwarf trees (no ladders) and it’s one of the most fun things you can do with your kids or grandkids. Don’t know where to take the out-of-town company? Drive those city slickers to any one of the local u-pick farms and they’ll love it!
Can luscious raspberries be far behind in the fruit parade? Mid-July sounds about right for them. We always watch for the purple blueberry tent at the blueberry farm on Lake Road to go up for the season; it’s a rite of summer. Make the most of the frits of summer; they’re so fleeting. The art of canning and preserving is not as common these days but with some zip-loc bags you can fill your freezer with summer’s bounty to get you through the winter. Toss out those frozen pizzas and bagels and make room for the good stuff!! And while you’re picking or buying…thank a farmer for keeping his faith in the land and bringing us such a bounty!