Last weekend my family took a mini vacation in Door County, WI when picking up my younger brother from his jazz band camp. Located on the WI peninsula jutting out into lake Michigan, this county is also known for producing as much as 13 million pounds of cherries every year. Luckily, it was the peak of the growing season, and you could find multiple pick your own farms while driving along the highway.
I got to go picking twice. The first time was with my dad just south of the town Egg Harbor, where we were staying. Picking your own is great fun as you just get handed a bucket and told to have fun! It was such a great activity, and the loaded cherry trees were absolutely gorgeous. In an hour, we each had filled a bucket of our own. The buckets are a great deal as you get several pounds of cherries. At this stand we only paid $6 per bucket, which is almost a steal considering how much they are in the grocery store.
The next day we went picking with the entire family just south of Sturgeon Bay. Again, the whole family worked on two buckets, and this farm even had ladders for pickers to use to get the higher up fruit. The buckets here were $8, but averaging $7 isn't such a bad deal. One of those bags was left with my Aunt whom we visited on the way home.
Now, what is one to do with so many cherries? Well, if you are going to bake with them, then you have to pit them. I was too lazy to buy a cherry pitter, so I used the curved end of a bobby pin. It worked out really well, actually, as the curve was just the right size to grab the pit if you go in through the stem hole. Plus, the cherries look nicer since you only have a hole on one side (if you are good and don't rip them open in the process...). After several hours pitting, two buckets of cherries were frozen to be used later in the fall and winter. Those two buckets produced 10 quart sized bags, which is a lot of cherries.
The other bucket of cherries is being used this week in a variety of ways. Yesterday about two cups were combined with a half cup of sugar and two tablespoons of corn starch to make a compote for serving over french toast. It was my first time using the fronch toast recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, and I was pleased, especially after adding a little vanilla extract and cinnamon so that they tasted like the french toast of my childhood.
Even more cherries were used this evening in a cherry cobbler along with the addition of two peaches on one side. Served with some quick banana ice cream (frozen bananas and a little soy milk blended together) for myself, it was the perfect summer evening snack.