Produce Superstars: Local Bing and Ranier Cherries Are at Their Peak Right Now

Bing cherries (the dark red ones) and Raniers (the lighter ones) stemmed and pittted, ready to be baked in a cobbler

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Local Bing and Ranier cherries are everywhere in the markets now, but as the season for  California-grown cherries is only a few weeks long, carpe diem! This is proving to be a good year for cherries, and supplies are abundant. As the shelf life for cherries is only a few days, even refrigerated, buy them and eat them now. Look for firm, but not too firm, unblemished, ripe fruit–cherries ripen very little after picking.  Wash and eat, and if you want to bake them, a cherry cobbler is a lot simpler than a pie, and can be equally delicious. Yes, pitting fresh cherries can be tedious, but you’re probably only going to bake something with cherries once a year, so dig in, it’s really not that bad! My cherry cobbler recipe is after the jump…

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Cherry cobbler recipe after the jump

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CHERRY COBBLER

Preheat oven to 350º F  (8-9 servings)

For the fruit:

6-7 cups sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted (you will need to buy 3 1/2 – 4 pounds of cherries

3/4 cup rice syrup or 2/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons arrowroot or corn starch

tiny pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the above ingredients in an oiled 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Mix them a bit, cover and bake in a 350ºF oven 25-30 minutes or until the cherries soften and the juices are bubbling heartily.

For the cobbler topping:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or use 2 cups of either)

tiny pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 cup cold canola oil

1 cup coconut milk curdled with 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (you can substitute rice or soy milk, or even buttermilk –no need to curdle that–if you like.  I used coconut milk to increase the richness of the dough.)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Measure out the canola oil and coconut milk and put in your freezer to chill for 15-20 minutes (using cold oil helps to increase the flakiness of your cobbler topping). Then combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Using a fork or large spoon, mix in the chilled oil.  When the flour is coated with the oil, add the coconut milk and maple syrup all at once.  Quickly mix. When the cherries are ready, uncover and drop tablespoonfuls of the cobbler dough on top, leaving space for the cherries to show through.  When you’ve finished dropping the dough on the cobbler, return it to the oven and bake another 25-35 minutes, or until the cobbler dough is golden brown on top.  Just to be safe, lift a little bit of the cobbler dough off of the cherries and check to see that it is done on the bottom side.  Serve warm with your favorite frozen or whipped topping.  Worth the effort!

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