Cherries and sweet corn - what do they have in common? At first glance, it might seem like not very much. But the past couple of weeks have shown me an interesting connection between these two foods. Both are in season right now - cherries in Washington and sweet corn in Minnesota.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to be in Seattle, helping move my son to his new job in that city. A trip to Seattle isn't complete if you don't take in the Pike Place Public Market. It is an amazing farmers market, that was originally founded in 1907, and has numerous vendors coming each day with fresh produce, fish, flowers, etc. to sell to the public. We spent a couple of hours looking through the market, watching the "fish-throwing" escapades at the famous Pike Place Fish Market booth and sampling our way through all the locally grown fruits and vegetables. And what was in season? Cherries!
I've eaten fresh cherries before. My mom used to buy flats of cherries when we were kids and she canned them and we ate cherry sauce in the winter. I've had a chocolate covered cherry or two at Christmas and was never too fond of them. But, I have never tasted freshly picked cherries in season in their prime - they were AMAZING! There were many booths at the market with fresh cherries and an equal number of booths with cherry products - such as Pinot Noir Chocolate Covered Cherries, dried cherries, cherry sauces and lots more. They were all so tasty.
Now I'm back in Minnesota and still have a few cherries left in my refrigerator. I parcel out a couple of the chocolate covered ones every night after supper for dessert. And as I eat those last few cherries, I think about how very good local produce truly can be. And that brings me to the next subject of sweet corn. As I drive home from work, I see sweet corn stands popping up along the highway, pick-ups with sweet corn in the back on the street corner and fresh corn starting to show up at our area farmers markets. We are so lucky to live in a place where we get to eat fresh sweet corn from our local area. When you can pick it and eat it the same day, the taste cannot be beat!
Now is certainly the time to enjoy the bounty of the garden and of our local producers. If you like to freeze or put up fruits and vegetables, now is the time to do that too, because they are in abundance and at the peak of their nutrient content. And even if Bing Cherries or Rainier Cherries aren't grown locally here, they are still available in the stores and still pretty tasty. Cherries are a tasty snack, they only have about five calories per cherry and are a good source of fiber. Following is an interesting recipe for a Cherry Bruschetta from the Rainier Fruit Company that is another fun way to serve fresh cherries:
18 slices (1/2 inch thick) small baguette-style bread
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced yellow sweet pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped green onions
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated lime peel
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp thinly slice fresh basil
Toast one side of baguette slices at 350 degrees for five minutes. Turn slices, brush with olive oil and bake 5 minutes longer. Combine cherries, cilantro, pepper, green onions, lime juice, lime peel, salt, pepper and remaining olive oil; mix well. Top each slice of baguette with a thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, a heaping tablespoon of cherry mixture and sliced basil. Serve warm or cold. Makes 18 appetizers.
Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.