Article Written by Lynn Ogryzlo
It’s cherry season again. Around this time every year, I habitually drive out to a farm market to buy more cherries than I can possibly eat and spend a leisurely afternoon on the back porch with my family spitting the pits.
Oscar Weiland owns a large pick-your-own cherry farm in the pretty village of Fonthill, Niagara. He reveals that cherry season in Ontario is as brief as it is blissful. “Sweet cherries come after strawberries, and it’s a short season of about two weeks,” says Weiland.
As short-lived as it may be, this is the time of year to roam markets in search of different varieties of cherries. If you love sweet cherries, there’s no finer shopping destination than The Fruit Shack on Niagara Stone Rd. (Hwy #55) in Virgil. They have a small orchard of large, black, firm, and ultra-sweet cherries called Summits, which are an expensive cherry to grow. Unlike apples, cherry varietals are most commonly sold mixed together, with the exception of white cherries.
I was first introduced to these sweet treats while travelling through Italy. There were a few white cherry trees growing on the grounds of the farm I was staying on. I ate their fruits for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every spare minute in between. The flesh is super sweet, firm and juicy, and their white exterior is painted with a delicate, red blush. Be sure to treat yourself if you ever cross paths with these white wonders. You won’t regret your purchase!
Sweet cherries are best eaten fresh and simply prepared. Cover them with melted chocolate for a bit of decadence, or use a few to decorate a cake. You can also add them to rich, homemade ice cream, or puree them into a scrumptious soup. If you’re the indulgent type, you may want to try soaking sweet cherries in a bit of kirsch or ice wine to create a rich compote to spoon over French toast or a warm crème brulee. Finally, you can add sweet cherries to a fruit salad, but be sure to add them at the last minute. Their bright, red color tends to bleed into the surrounding fruits.
Cherries are very high in melatonin, a potent antioxidant which can significantly improve the body’s natural sleep patterns. Eating just a handful of cherries can increase melatonin levels in the blood allowing for a great night’s sleep after all that indulgence.
It’s estimated that 80% of all sweet cherries sold are eaten straight out of hand. and little is required to enjoy them. Just find a comfortable chair on a porch or patio, pop a locally grown cherry into your mouth, and spit the pit as far as you can. It’s truly the makings of a perfect pastime!
Lynn Ogryzlo is Ontario’s Local Food Ambassador, food writer and international award-winning author of The Ontario Table. lynnogryzlo.com
the Farm Fresh Markets App!
Available as of June 1, the Farm Fresh Markets is launching its mobile app. Create shopping lists, access the Farm Fresh Markets blog and more.
For more details visit farmfreshmarkets.ca
In addition to your local supermarket or grocery store, look for locally grown cherries at:
Burlington Farmer’s Market
Wednesday and Saturday 8 am to 2 pm Friday 8 am to 4 pm
Oakville Place Farmers’ Market
Oakville Place Shopping Centre
Thursdays and Saturdays 8 am to 2 pm
7256 Bell School Line, Milton
Open daily, 9 am to 5 pm
7388 Guelph Line, Campbellville
Open daily, 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
Cherry Avenue Farms
4303 Cherry Ave., Vineland
Open Monday to Saturday 8 am to 7 pm
Sundays and Holidays 8 am to 6 pm
Weiland Sweet Cherry Farm
1625 Haist St., Fonthill
Open daily during cherry season,
8 am to 8 pm