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Tag Archive | "Cherries"

Cherries


 

BLOOM-CherriesFrom the Michigan Ag Council

They’re red, they’re tasty, and they’re one of Michigan’s most prized specialty crops!

Fresh sweet Michigan cherries are in season from late June to August while Montmorency tart cherries are available throughout the year in dried,  frozen, canned, or as juices and concentrates.

Michigan cherry facts:

  • Michigan produces both tart (perfect for baked goods, entrees, snacks, smoothies, salads, and other recipes) and sweet (for fresh eating) cherries
  • Michigan ranks 1st in the nation in the production of Montmorency tart cherries
  • Michigan ranks 4th in the nation in the production of sweet cherries
  • 70-75% of Montmorency tart cherries and 20% of sweet cherries grown in the U.S. come from Michigan
  • The northwest counties of Michigan grow most of Michigan’s cherries
  • Traverse City, Michigan is home to the annual National Cherry Festival and is the Cherry Capital of the World

Nutrition:

  • Montmorency tart cherries are abundant in anthocyanins – a natural compound that contributes to the ruby-red color, distinctive sour-sweet taste, and has been linked to the potential health benefits of Montmorency tart cherries.
  • A growing number of elite athletes and everyday exercisers are incorporating Montmorency tart cherries in their training routines, as studies have shown that Montmorency tart cherry juice may help reduce strength loss and aid recovery after extensive exercise.
  • Research indicates that Montmorency tart cherry juice may help improve the quality and duration of sleep.
  • Cherries contain beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron and fiber

To learn more about cherries, visit The Cherry Marketing Institute at www.choosecherries.com.

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Pork Chops with cherry sauce


BLOOM-Recipe-Pork-Chops-with-Cherry-Sauce

From The Cherry Marketing Institute, choosecherries.com.

Total Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup dried Montmorency tart cherries
  • 2 boneless pork loin chops, about 1-inch thick
  • Salt and black pepper, freshly ground, to taste (used 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Dried red pepper flakes, to taste (used 1/8 teaspoon pepper)

Directions

Season pork chops with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet on high heat. Add pork chops; brown well, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to plate.

Add onions to skillet; cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, dried Montmorency tart cherries, orange marmalade, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; boil rapidly on medium heat until broth is reduced by half. Reduce heat.

Add pork chops to pan to heat through, 5 to 6 minutes. (Cook pork chops longer on lower heat if pork chops are very thick or have a bone in them.) Internal temperature of the pork should be about 160 degrees F.

Add chicken broth or water, if needed.

Serve pork chops with cherry sauce spooned over them.

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Cherry Crop Pest Management


OUT-Cherries

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Cherries and plums for our Christmas festivities depend on crop production. Michigan has an important cherry orchard industry. We eat cherries throughout the year and I particularly like Traverse City Pie Company cherry pies.

The American Plum Borer is a micro moth that few people ever see but it feeds on cherry and plum trees. It is the most important pest of these trees in Michigan. Natural control species such as birds, spiders, beetles, ants, and wasp parasitoids are important for maintaining pest control.

Legislation has been introduced to revise the definition of “conservation” regarding biological diversity to remove key provisions regarding restoration, distribution and the “continued existence” of native species and communities. It would prevent biodiversity from being considered when managing natural resources. Biodiversity is fundamental to healthy functioning nature niches. It is beyond my comprehension and the scope of the article to address political motivations that undermine maintenance of healthy ecosystems. By the time this article is printed the vote will likely have occurred.

The focus here is on the American Plum Borer, Euzophera semifuneralis (Walker), a Pyralid moth and other species that control it. Like so many aspects of the natural world, very little is known about the moth’s biological control despite it being the most important pest of the cherry and plum trees. A change in how we harvest cherries is one reason it is an important pest. About 40 years ago we shifted to hydraulic tree shakers from human manual pickers. The mechanical harvesting by machines instead of humans causes cracking and tearing of the bark.

The moth lays eggs that hatch and enter through the bark injuries. Caterpillars feed on the thin cambium that produces new tissue for transporting food, water, and nutrients. Trees usually die within five years if the insects are too abundant. To control the insect, pesticides are used but pesticides used are being discovered as harmful to us. They are increasingly restricted to safeguard our health. That makes a case for maintaining natural biodiversity of native species to help control the insect that takes food from our tables.

A variety of birds including the Northern Flicker and other woodpeckers were commonly found probing the bark in spring and summer for moth larvae. White-breasted Nuthatches and other birds search the tree wounds and bark for larvae and over-wintering hibernators.

The most common parasitoid eating the moth larvae is a tiny ichneumon wasp. Parasitoids are different from parasites in that they kill their prey. They feed inside the caterpillar on non-vital tissues at first and later eat vital organs causing death. A true parasite does not kill its host. A mosquito is a good example of a parasite on us.

Crab spiders species were found preying on the moths. A beetle, nematode roundworms, fungi, and ants are important natural controls. Many natural control species await discovery. Often when pesticides are used, the natural control species are more severely reduced than the pest species because they are not as abundant. The pest species is then able to reproduce more rapidly in the absence of natural controls and create increased economic harm.

Two things that would help keep cherries on our tables would be to reduce the mechanical damage to tree bark by tree shaker machines and to maintain natural biodiversity so native species are able to continue their ecological role in the food web. One might think it would have minor impact for politicians to prevent scientists and land managers from using best practices to maintain biodiversity but their action can be devastating. Details about the biological control of the American Plum Borer can be found in a scientific paper written by David Biddinger and Tim Leslie in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of The Great Lakes Entomologist journal.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

 

 

 

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Colors In the Wind


By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Red Maples in swamplands are the first to show fall color. It is typical for stressed plants or weak dying plants to change color earlier. Difficult growing conditions in swamps are demonstrated by the red appearing first on the maples in standing wet conditions.

Sassafras trees show red or yellow depending on the amount of sugar, anthocyanin, and carotenes present in the leaves. Sumacs change early to become a beautiful crimson. At the equinox, color change picks up speed. Green still dominates the landscape.

Uppermost tree leaves change color first. Treetop leaves are exposed to chilling cold before more protected inner leaves. This results in color changes at the top first and is usually followed by leaf color at the tree canopy edge.

Fall breezes rustle leaves and we get to see the first colors in the wind drifting to the ground, as leaves break free. A few fall until a gust of wind fills the air with a couple hundred leaves. Cherries begin shedding leaves before many other species. Their leaves are not cherry red like the fruits but are yellow.

Aspen colors draw our attention as green and amber leaves quake in the slightest air movement. The leaves have a flat petiole that holds the blade to the stem. The flat petiole makes them quake easily. The movement captures our eyes and the sound of wind among the leaves draws attention. As fall progresses, aspens become beacons of reflected amber light in the setting sun. Amber aspens are like massive streetlights beginning to glow in the dimming evening woods.

Closer to the ground, dogwood shrubs are a deep dark maroon and raspberries are a rich red. Among the most brilliant fall colors are the Virginia creeper vines clinging to trunks of dead trees. They are exposed to full sun and have more sugar in the leaves. The exposure to sun aids pigment richness. The creepers that are more shaded from full sun are usually yellow.

Watch trees in various nature niche situations to discover subtle variations occurring where individual plants work to survive in their unique location. Discover trees of the same species with one growing in less ideal conditions and notice it changes color before others of it kind growing in better conditions.

Plants shed leaves in preparation for winter by producing an abscission layer between the petiole (leave stem) and the branch. This is a layer of large cells that seals fluid movement from leave to stem or stem to leave. If weather conditions prevent leaves from shipping sugars from the leaves before the abscission layer forms, sugar gets trapped and fall colors become more beautiful.

Large cells of the abscission layer create a weak area where the leaves separate from the tree to create colors in the wind when they fall.

Sugar maples hold leaves well and then suddenly drop them in a few days. Karen’s parents often visit for her October 20th birthday. When they arrive, the two maples by the house still have many leaves. Her parents are always amazed by the time they leave three days later that most of the leaves have been shed.

Oak trees do not form a good abscission layer. The result is many of the leaves remain on the tree into winter or even spring when new growth pushes the old leaf off. Sometimes oak leaves turn red but it is usual for them to simply brown. Enjoy the flitting and fluttering of colors in the wind, while taking notice of individual trees.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net

 

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Fresh Market: Cherries


BLOOM-Fresh-market-cherries-webBy Vicky Babcock

 

“Cherries on the ryse,” or on the twigs, was one of the street cries in London during the 15th century. These cherries likely were fruit from the native wild cherry, as the domestic cherry, introduced into Briton around 71 BC, disappeared sometime in the Saxon period.  It was not reintroduced until Henry VIII’s reign in the early 1500’s. Ancient lore holds that the Virgin Mary—prior to the birth of Christ—once wished to taste some cherries that hung high above her head. She asked Joseph to pick them for her but he refused saying, “Let the father of thy child present thee with the cherries.” As the words left his lips the branch of the tree bowed to the Virgin’s hand, allowing her to gather the fruit and thus, silently reproaching Joseph for his surliness. Thus, the cherry is dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics: Embracing the Myths, Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore of the Plant Kingdom, Richard Folkard, 1884).

The ancient Lithuanians believed the demon, Kirnis, to be the guardian of the Cherry. In Germany and Denmark, tradition holds that evil spirits often hide themselves within old Cherry trees, causing harm to anyone who comes near. Folkard’s book also says that to dream of cherries denotes inconsistency and disappointment in life.

A relative newcomer to the States (1600’s), cherries have likely been consumed since prehistoric times.  Romans and Greeks prized the fruit as did the Chinese. Its royal color and its tart flavor likely earned it a place on the tables of nobles and kings.  The cherry tree probably originated in the territories of Asia Minor near the Black and Caspian Seas.

It turns out the sandy soil along Lake Michigan, as well as the tempering effects of the lake on the arctic air, create an excellent growing environment for cherries in our state.   Michigan has the honor of being the leading producer of the tart cherry crop in the United States, with about 75 percen of the nation’s production, which is almost exclusively centered in the Traverse Bay area. Most of these tart cherries find their way into pies and pie fillings, in addition to preserves, jellies, juice and dried fruit. We are also a big producer of sweet cherries and farmer’s markets and roadside stands are rife with these beauties in July. Peter Dougherty, the first European settler in the Traverse Bay area, is credited with the introduction of the tart cherry tree here. In 1852, he planted a cherry orchard on Old Mission Peninsula. Much to the astonishment of the natives and settlers, the grove thrived.

Consumption of cherries has been linked with reduction of uric acid in the body, bringing great relief from the pain associated with arthritis and gout. In a study done by the USDA, it was discovered that consumption of 2 cups of Bing cherries reduced uric acid by as much as 15 percent. Cherries also help reduce inflammation by reducing the amount of C-reactive protein produced. Powerful antioxidants in cherries—especially the dark sweet variety—help keep cancerous cells from growing out of control. They are an excellent source of potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure by keeping sodium and potassium in balance.  One cup of cherries contains as much potassium as a banana. Trouble sleeping? Tart cherries contain melatonin, a sleep aid, and in studies, two tablespoons of the juice were found to be just as effective as a melatonin supplement.

A cup of cherries comes in at less than a hundred calories, making it an excellent choice for your diet. Cherries contain many B-vitamins as well, which are essential for metabolism. So for a skinny choice, choose cherries!

 

Fruit Crisp

2 tart pie apples such as Granny Smith or Spies, peeled and chopped

2 Anjou pears, peeled and chopped

1 cup pitted dark sweet cherries

¼ cup sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/3 cup quick cooking oats

1/3 cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup butter

½ cup pecan pieces

 

Combine fruits and ¼ cup sugar; spread in buttered 8×8 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except for pecans. Work together until crumbly. Stir in pecan pieces. Sprinkle mixture over fruit layer.

Bake in pre-heated 350 ◦ oven 50 minutes or until crisp is golden and bubbly.  Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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