Home Posts tagged 'cherries'

Posts Tagged ‘cherries’


Simon

Cherish California Cherries

California stone fruit season usually gets going in the beginning of May with the local cherry crop.  The lack of a robust cherry crop the past few years in the Bay Area due to warm winters and drought summers has really slowed down production of one of the best fruit crops know to humankind. With this being said, this year’s local cherry crop is off to an amazing start and we are so excited to celebrate these amazing farms and all different cherry varieties they grow.

BingCherries_HiddenStarOrchardsFrom now until July, Hidden Star Orchards in Linden brings us organic cherries straight from their orchard twice a week.  Johan at Hidden Star is like the “Cherry Whisperer,” he always harvests beautiful cherries right when they are peaking in flavor.  Hidden Star just started harvesting the Brooks cherry, a dark red cherry that is super juicy. This will be followed by the firm Bing cherry, which is considered one of the sweetest red cherries, but also with a little tang to the flavor.   The yellow and red-skinned Rainier cherry just hit our shelves and this large but delicate cherry has a sweet white flesh and is always a special treat.   Hidden Star will finish out the cherry season with lesser-known varieties like the Larian and Red Lac cherry.  Now is the time for cherry lovers to come by the Markets and sample this special crop.

CoralCherries_ChinchioloAt Bi-Rite we pride ourselves on building relationships with the farmers who grow our food, so whenever we have the opportunity for a new relationship we get very excited! This spring, we’re fortunate enough to start getting local cherries from the Chinchiolo Family Farms in the San Joaquin County.  This is a fourth-generation family farm that focuses on apples and cherries. Just this past week we received our first delivery of Red Coral sweet cherries and they did not disappoint!  The Chinchiolo family grows a firm cherry that has a sweet tangy flavor with plenty of juice.  This week they are harvesting the Bing cherry which will be at both Markets for the next week.

This is a really fun time of year at the Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop with all local stone fruit and berries to cook with.  One of the most labor intensive crops to work with in the kitchen is cherries! Team Cream organized a couple group cherry pitting days where 500 pounds of cherries were hand pitted and cooked down in less than a week.  All this hard work will be turned into the seasonal release of the Cherry Almond Ice Cream, available only at the Creamery and Scoop Shop within the next couple weeks – keep an eye out for this once-a-season treat!


Simon

Cherish California Cherries!

In the world of fresh fruits and veggies, there are only a handful of crops that get everyone super-excited, and California Sweet Cherries is one of them! When the end of April rolls around in the Bay Area, it’s time for our local Northern California cherries. Just 5 years ago, Bi-Rite had relationships with several farmers that would harvest their cherries and deliver them to our door within 24 hours. From the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the flatlands of Brentwood, each variety of cherry is unique, depending on how and where it was grown. Unfortunately, due to warm winters and drought conditions over the past few years, cherry growers throughout the state are struggling to produce healthy crops. One of the main reasons for the decrease in the California cherry crop is the insufficient chill hours from October through February that are necessary to regulate their growth. With the uncertain future of the Northern California cherry crop, we at Bi-Rite have decided to celebrate the farmers that are still providing wonderful cherries in spite of these difficulties, and to cherish this year’s cherries to the fullest.

IMG_2129

Warmer weather in the spring months also leads to cherry crops being harvested a week or two earlier than in typical years. Bi-Rite’s cherry selection always starts with the sweet Red Garnet Cherry from Ed George’s Peach Farm in Winters, California. Last year Ed had a complete crop failure on this variety and this year he only has 50 % of his crop. The one benefit of the smaller crops is that the cherries have more room on the tree to grow nice and big. There aren’t many crop varieties that produce the best fruit early in the season, but the Red Garnet is an exception. They are firm with a rich sweet flavor but are only around for 7-10 days.  The two other local farmers that bring their cherries to Bi-Rite are Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood and Hidden Star Orchards in Linden.  Frog Hollow has almost had a complete crop failure the past couple years and only has enough fruit to bring to the Farmer’s Markets.  This leaves it up to Johann Smit at Hidden Star to be our main local cherry grower this season.  He usually starts us out with the Burlat Cherry, which is a softer variety with a very delicate sweet/tart flavor perfect to get the taste buds excited for cherry season.  The Burlat will be followed by some other sweet red varieties like the Bing, Brooks, Larian, and Red Lac Cherries. Johann also grows some beautiful yellow Rainier Cherries.

Cherries

As the local cherry crop winds down in the beginning of June, we will continue to source cherries from other parts of California and finish the cherry season off with the amazing fruit from the Northwest. If you love to eat local produce and support Northern California cherry growers, May is your month to cherish the local cherries at Bi-Rite!


Simon

Local Cherries and the Realities of the California Drought

cherriesWith the arrival of the first red sweet cherries from the Central Valley coming later than usual, the reality of the Northern California cherry crop failure has set in. Now more than ever, it’s critical that we support local, organic farms and farmers.

Over the past ten years we’ve started cherry season at Bi-Rite with the amazing Red Garnet cherry form Ed George, followed a week later by cherries from Hidden Star Orchard and Frog Hollow’s Burlat Cherry. By the time the third week of May rolls around, we’re usually knee-deep in Brooks, Bings and Rainier cherries from our favorite local growers. Unfortunately, the warm weather and drought this winter wasn’t kind to the cherry trees. Without enough cold nights this winter, the trees never met their chilling requirement after entering dormancy. The lack of cold nights, coupled with the stress of drought conditions, means that instead of beginning to produce fruit from the dormant buds, the trees go straight to preparing for the next season.

cherries 3

Cherries are currently on our Produce shelves!

Ed George, who has historically brought us our first cherries of the year from Winters, CA, had complete crop failure, leaving him with only a handful of cherries per tree. Johann Smit of Hidden Star, who usually brings us the season’s first organic cherries, said he’s gotten about 50% crop failure (we will have some of the Hidden Star cherries on our shelves this year but it won’t be the epic cherry celebration we’ve come to love). Meanwhile, Farmer Al of Frog Hollow lost about half his crop and only has enough for farmer’s markets.

We will do our best to source California cherries throughout May but the price will be a little higher than usual, starting the season at $9.99/lb. Most likely, the cherries coming in from the North West in June will be some of the best of the season. We do have some good cherries on the shelves now, but if you can’t get your hands on them in time or if the prices prove too high, “Eat a berry instead of a cherry.” And for the sake of all of our local farmer friends and all of our guests who count on us for good local produce, let’s hope that weather conditions improve soon!