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Local cherry season slow to start, fruit ready for picking next week

Lorie Hutson I Lorieh@Spokesman.Com, (509) 459-5446

Seems patience is the secret ingredient in this year’s local growing season.

The appearance of hot, sunny days may make one anxious for the fruits of mid-summer, but area farms are still resplendent in early spring offerings.

The growers at Green Bluff usually open their farms for cherry picking by this time, but they say the fruit won’t be ready for another week or so. Cool spring temperatures have delayed ripening of many seasonal offerings.

“There’s nothing wrong with the fruit,” says Ronda Bosma, of Cherry Hill on Green Bluff. “It’s just late.”

Most local cherries won’t be ready for the opening weekend of the annual Cherry Festival this Saturday and Sunday. But there should be plenty of ripe fruit for the following weekend and the July 21 annual Cherry Pickers’ Trot and Pit Spit.

The best way to find out what is ready for picking at Green Bluff, says Bosma, is to check in with growers online. The farms are working hard to update the Green Bluff Growers website with the latest information on what is available. Go to and click on the business card-sized “Fresh on the Bluff” logo.

“That way we can make sure people don’t leave the Bluff empty handed,” Bosma says.

For those itching to pick something, there are still plenty of strawberries to be had. Check in with growers online or by calling a favorite farm for details.

Cherries from Central Washington are abundant at area markets and farmers markets. We stained our fingers and faces with cherries from growers at the South Perry Farmers Market and the Spokane Public Market last week. Look on page C5 for a listing of area farmers markets.

Here are a few recipes to help celebrate the season:

Ronda’s Delicious Cherry Hill Pie Cherry Jam

Ronda Bosma and her mother-in-law, Sylvia, worked together to create this jam recipe.

4 cups pitted pie cherries

1 package powdered pectin

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup almond liqueur

5 cups sugar

Combine cherries, pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar. Bring to full rolling boil; boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Skim off foam. Pour hot jam, into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Attach lids.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Increase processing time 5 minutes for elevations of 1,001 to 3,000 feet.

Yield: 6 or 7 half pints

Cherry Hand Pies

Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2011. This recipe originally called for Dufour puff pastry, but it worked well with Pepperidge Farm brand, which can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. These were a hit at a recent potluck.

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted, or about 12 ounces frozen pitted cherries, unthawed

2/3 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (17.3-ounce) package puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator

Flour (for dusting)

1 large egg white

1 1/2 teaspoon raw sugar

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to blend. Combine fresh cherries and next 4 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cherry juices are released, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil, stirring often. Cook until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Roll out 1 pastry sheet slightly on a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into six rectangles. Whisk egg white and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl for egg wash.

Working with 1 pastry rectangle at a time, place on a work surface and brush edges with egg wash. Scoop 2 tablespoons cherry mixture onto one side; fold dough over filling so that short ends meet, forming a small packet. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in top of pie to vent. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake pastries until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Yield: 12 hand pies

Cherry-Chocolate Coffee Cake

From Food Network Magazine, July/August 2011

For the streusel:

1 cup blanched almonds

1 cup sugar

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For the filling:

1 3/4 pounds fresh pie cherries, pitted (2 1/2 cups), or 2 cups jarred pitted sour cherries, drained

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons cherry liqueur (optional)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Make the streusel: Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, 5 to 7 minutes; let cool and transfer to a food processor. Add the sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, orange zest and cocoa powder and pulse until the nuts are ground and the mixture starts to clump. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the filling: Toss the cherries, almond extract and cherry liqueur, if using, in a bowl. Stir in the flour and sugar.

Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Beat in half of the flour mixture on low speed until almost incorporated, then beat in half of the sour cream mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture, then the sour cream mixture; finish mixing the batter by hand (do not overmix).

Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Spread half of the batter in the pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel on top, then cover with the cherry filling. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter on top of the cherries and smooth with the back of a spoon. Top with the remaining streusel.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the cake springs back in the center when pressed, about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Run a knife around the inside of the pan, then remove the side.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Grilled Salmon with Cherry Hill Sauce

From “Cookin’ on the Bluff for 100 Years.” The cookbook was compiled by a Green Bluff grange committee in 2009 for Green Bluff’s centennial celebration. The recipe was shared by Cherry Hill. Try this sauce over pork or chicken.

3 cups pitted sweet cherries

1/2 cups water

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chopped red pepper flakes

In a large saucepan combine all ingredients and bring to boil over a medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Serve over grilled salmon

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Simply Delicious Cherry Chutney

From “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.” Serve this chutney with pork or alongside a cheese tray. The chutney thickens as the moisture evaporates, so you may need to gradually reduce the heat to maintain a boil while preventing scorching. After canning, let chutney rest two or three weeks before serving to let the flavors meld.

4 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice

1 cinnamon stick (about 6 inches), broken

10 cups tart or sweet cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped

2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 1/2 cups finely chopped red or sweet onions

1 cup white vinegar

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups raisins

Tie allspice and cinnamon stick in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine cherries, apples, onions, vinegar, garlic, salt and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil hard, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Add brown sugar, and stir to dissolve. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 20 minutes. Add raisins and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Discard spice bag.

Meanwhile, prepare a hot water canner. Wash 4 half-pint jars and fill with hot water until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.

Ladle hot chutney into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot chutney. Wipe jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (15 minutes at 1,000 to 6,000 feet; 20 minutes above 6,000 feet).

Yield: About 6 (8-ounce jars)

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