Bing Cherries —

With their large size, deep mahogany color, crisp, juicy texture and burst of flavor, it’s easy to see why California Bing Cherries are the season’s most anticipated fruit.

Cultivation of sweet cherries likely began with the Greeks, and later the Romans, who valued the trees’ timber as well as its fruit. Sweet cherries came to America in 1629 with English colonists, and later to California with Spanish missionaries. Today’s Bing Cherries come from stock that dates back to the 1800’s, when California became an established cherry production region.

Bings are perfect for snacking out of hand. They are also delicious when pitted and mixed in with yogurt, in sauces, juiced, in preserves and jams, dried, added to oatmeal or cereal, in lemonade, and in fruit and green salads.

Storage: Refrigerate unwashed Bings in a plastic bag. When ready to eat, wash them and let sit until they come to room temperature to bring out their full flavor.

Bing Cherry Topping
3/4 T. cornstarch
3 c. apple juice
1/4 T. honey
1/4 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. Bing cherries,
washed, stemmed and pitted
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. ground cardamom (optional)

In a medium saucepan, whisk the cornstarch with the apple juice until the cornstarch is totally dissolved. Whisk in the honey and vanilla extract.

Add the cherries, cinnamon and cardamom (if you choose to use). Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and turns transparent, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat.

Serve warm over pancakes, waffles, or for a fantastic fat-free dessert, over fat-free frozen yogurt!

Sugar Cot Apricots —
Sweet California apricots are the beautiful blushed, peach-colored fruit that signals the arrival of summer. While available dried and canned year ’round, nothing beats eating these sweet juicy gems straight from the tree.

Apricots are full of antioxidants, beta-carotene and fiber, and are a good source of vitamin C. In season in North America from May through August, this Sugar Cot variety is at its peak right now in California.

Along with peaches, nectarines and plums, this member of the “stone fruit” family (those with a large hard seed within) originated in China. The first apricot trees arrived in the U.S. in 1720, and were planted in Virginia orchards. Their appearance in the Spanish missions of California around 1792 marked the fruit’s real arrival, with the climate there perfectly suited for this sun-loving fruit.

Enjoy out of hand or added to yogurt, smoothies or salads. Also wonderful baked into desserts and preserves.

Storage: Place apricots on a flat surface with space between the fruit to ripen at room temperature. Turn occasionally to ripen evenly. When they yield to gentle pressure, they are ripe and ready to eat. Refrigerate ripe fruit.

Honey-Roasted Apricots w/Amaretti Cookies
1# apricots, halved and pitted
1 T. honey, heated
1/4 t. sugar
1 pinch ground cardamom
1/2 c. crushed amaretti cookies
2 T. chilled heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Place apricots cut sides up on the sheet. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sugar, cardamom and cookie crumbs. Bake until soft and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the cream until soft and peaks barely form. Transfer the apricots to plates, spoon the cream on top and serve.

About the Author
Amy Heydt
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