Friday, July 1, 2011

Bing! Went The Strings Of My Heart

It's Fruity Fun Friday and today my heart strings are all about Bing Cherries. Mmmm...

We recently scored some Bing Cheeries from Mountain Valley Orchards while on a trip. It's a sweet little farm market in Cavetown, PA specializing in fruit and fresh produce as well as some herbs and baked goods.

We stopped by early in the morning on our way home so we had our pick of all the day's offerings.

But it was the cherries I was after.

You know I took them up on that offer!

Cherry pits have been found in Stone-Age archeological sites and were carried by Roman soldiers along their routes of conquest through out Europe and England. Cherries are what's called stone fruits and are related to plums, as well as peaches and nectarines, though the last two are distant relations.

Sour cherries are lower in calories than the other variety, the sweet cherry. Bing Cherries are the famous cherries- large, round, sweet, and juicy. Cherries are loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C, and beta carotene as well as potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. According to Choose Cherries, "emerging evidence links cherries to many important health benefits – from helping to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Cherries also contain melatonin, which has been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process".

Image via Wall Street Oasis
Buy cherries that are large and glossy, plump and firm, preferably with a flexible green stem still on the fruit. Cherries should be kept cool and moist as both the flavor and texture suffer in warmer temperatures.

Washington Monument framed by the famous blooming cherries trees.
Image by Scott Gawne via Flickr

The CDC website Fruits and Vegetables Matter (a great site) has this advice for storing cherries:
Loosely pack unwashed cherries in plastic bags or pour them into a shallow pan in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap to minimize bruising. Store cherries in the refrigerator and cherries in good condition should last up to a week. Check the fruit occasionally and remove the cherries that have gone bad. Wash the fruit before eating.

You can freeze cherries by rinsing and draining thoroughly, spreading them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and placing in the freezer overnight. Once the cherries are frozen, transfer them to a heavy plastic bag. The frozen fruit may be kept up to a year.

Image via Donate Fuit Blog

OK- let's eat some cherries. Now I know that we just read all about the wonderful nutritional value of cherries and there are some very tempting recipes for salsas and salads out there. But other than being eaten raw, cherries are most often used for dessert, as in Bing Cherry Walnut Oatmeal Crumble from Recipe Goldmine.

1 1/2 pounds fresh Bing cherries, halved and pitted
1 cup apple juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped*
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1 stick)
1/2 cup old-fashioned (not quick-cooking) oatmeal, uncooked
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cherries in a bowl and pour the apple juice over them. Set aside 1 hour.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, the brown sugar and the chopped nuts in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oatmeal. Set aside.

Strain apple juice from cherries and place in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the cornstarch and the salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cherries and almond extract. Spoon the mixture into a deep 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle crumble topping over the cherries.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the crumble is bubbly at the edges and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

* To toast nuts, spread on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 5 to 8 minutes or until brown. Or heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn.

A couple of comments. Someone's tween-ager who shall remain nameless but whose initals are Zippy Extraodinare drank the entire bottle of apple juice I had gotten for this recipe. In one day. The dietary impact of that makes my head spin and we discussed vitamins, minerals, and SUGAR in juice and moved on. So I used V-8 Fusion in Cranberry Blackberry Light. It worked fine though I do think it boosted the richness factor of the finished dessert. Also, incredibly, we did not have any ice cream in the house (?!) so whipped topping did a fine job as stunt double.

Even though this dessert has lots of yummy healthy ingredients like cherries, walnuts, and oatmeal, a small serving goes a long way.

Image via Cook Here and Now

Enough talk already! Go out to a local farm market, grab some bing cherries, and get to cooking. You'll thank me later.

And I thank you for stopping by today-- have a cherry of a day!

1 comment:

  1. Cherries are by far my favorite fruit, great farm too, we went cherry picking last year but not sure if it will happen again this year/