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Cherries and July 4th!

Cherries and July 4th!

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Single Cherry on Branch

It’s that time of year again…as the July 4th holiday arrives, so do the cherries (at least in PA).

One of our best summer days EVER was a day trip to Erie County.  It started in the morning at Mobilia Fruit Farm (and winery!) picking our own cherries under a crystal clear blue sky.  Afterward, with our bounty of cherries loaded in the cooler we headed to the beaches of Presque Isle for a day of soaking up the sun, kite flying and body surfing the waves of Lake Erie.  This particular day started something we now strive to repeat every year in late June/early July when the cherries are in season.

The entire northern edge of Erie County borders Lake Erie and is a bountiful region of fertile farmland with a unique growing climate tempered by the lake waters.  Well-known for its vineyards, the area also boasted a number of successful cherry producing farms in the early to mid 20th century, from which emerged a thriving fruit packing industry.  Today’s farms that offer pick-your-own cherries honor this industry’s heritage, many growing both sweet and sour varieties.  Mobilia Fruit Farm that we visited not only offers fresh, pick-your-own cherries, they also pit and freeze their sour cherries, beautifully preserving them for cherry pies and other tasty treats year-round.

Less than a 2-hour drive from Pittsburgh, the Lake Erie region of the Keystone state is a perfect day-trip, whether you’re headed to the beaches, to one (or more) of the many farms to pick your own summer treats … or both!

Those freshly picked cherries were a refreshing snack that sunny summer day on the beach…and they were equally delicious in a number of dishes we created back home, including this version of summer’s favorite dessert – ice cream!  Can’t wait to get back there this year!!

Frozen Custard with Sour Cherries

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

I love that the sour cherries are a tart surprise hidden in this sweet creamy frozen custard. Feel free to substitute sweet cherries (or any summer fruit) if that’s your heart’s desire!

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups pitted sour cherries, halved (frozen work well!)

Instructions

In medium saucepan, whisk together eggs, ¾ cup sugar, milk, vanilla seeds and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon. Cool and then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour. When cool, strain through a fine mesh sieve if desired to remove any lumps (this is an optional step), cover and keep refrigerated until ready to freeze.

While the custard mixture cools, place halved cherries in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir and let sit until sugar has dissolved and cherries begin to release juice. Set aside until ready to use.

When ready to freeze, stir heavy cream into the chilled custard mixture. Pour the combined mixture into your ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. When the freezing process is complete and the ice cream is still soft, stir in the cherries and accumulated juice. Transfer to freezer-safe containers, cover and freeze about 2 hours until firm.

http://localgoodness.com/blog/local-goodness/cherries-july-4th/

For more cherry treats from past visits, see our other posts HERE.

….and HAPPY July 4th!!

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