Christmas in September

Chocolate doughnut decorated with Leelanau Fruit Company Maraschino Cocktail Cherries.

Chocolate doughnut decorated with Leelanau Fruit Company Maraschino Cocktail Cherries.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!

Why are we singing holiday songs in September? It’s just past Labor Day! We have over 85 days until Christmas. What’s going on here?

No, we are not trying to get a jump on the major retailers who start advertising Christmas shopping at the beginning of college football season. We are ramping up our production of Glacé fruit mixes for holiday fruitcakes! For us, it’s glacé season!

What is glacé fruit, you might ask? Well, you can click above on the wholesale tab to navigate to our glacé fruit page. For those of you who’d prefer a Cliffs Notes intro to glacé fruit, here you go:

Glacé is the French word for glazed, and refers to fruits that are preserved in a sugar syrup. Glacé fruit can be used in cakes, breads and other sweets, or used to decorate cakes. Traditionally these fruits are used during the Christmas holiday season in fruitcakes.

Glacé fruit, also known as candied fruit, has existed since the 14th century. Whole fruit, pieces, and peels of fruits are placed in heated sugar syrup. The fruit absorbs the moisture from within and the sugar syrup eventually preserves the fruit. Depending on the size and type of fruit this process can take anywhere from several days up to a month.

LFC  glacé mixes include our cherries, along with pineapple, orange and lemon peel, and turnips. These mixes will be delivered to select bakeries throughout the United States and Canada in the next couple months, who will use them as ingredients in traditional holiday fruitcakes!

Since we began producing fruitcake mixes in 2012, we have become fans of the delectable holiday treat. And no, not just because we make the mix.  Bakeries are doing incredible things with fruitcake, and let us tell you, they are delicious.

lfc booth pic

Last week, Renee and Ben traveled to Toronto, Canada, to participate in a bakery supply showcase dubbed “Christmas in September.”  This show was a great opportunity for us to interact directly with the bakers who use our glacé mixes in their bakeries.  It was a rewarding experience to hear people come up to our booth and tell us how much they love our products.

table pic

As we get closer to the holiday season, we will post a recipe for you to use our mixes and make a holiday fruitcake for yourself. Don’t want to bake? I don’t blame you! If you have a Costco store nearby, try one of their bakery fruitcakes. Chances are the fruit mix came from our Buckley plant- and it all began with a cherry!

Merry Christmas- in September!

The Best Cherry Pie Ever!

018

TART CHERRY PIE
Plump and juicy cherries are one of summer’s favorite fruits. There’s no better way to take advantage of the bounty than to bake up a homemade cherry pie!  We’d love to have you stop by our Suttons Bay office and meet our resident recipe expert, Misha.  While you are there, make sure you pick up plenty of frozen tart cherries to make your pies with!

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon Almond extract
Dash salt
4 cups fresh or frozen pitted tart cherries, thawed and drained
Pastry for double crust 9” pie (recipe to follow)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk, sugar to sprinkle over the top crust
Directions:
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt; stir in cherries and extract until blended. Let stand for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat.
Line a 9 inch pie plate with bottom crust. Fill with cherry filling; dot with butter. Top with remaining top crust. (you may wish to cut out some pretty cherry shapes and leaves before placing the crust on top of the cherry filling). Trim, seal and flute edges. Cut a few slits in the top crust for steam to escape while baking. Wisk egg yolk and brush over top crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover edges during the last 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool on wire rack.

PERFECT PIE CRUST (for a 9”, two crust pie)
Ingredients:
2 ½ all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup cold lard or shortening
¼ cold water
Directions:
Mix flour, salt & sugar in large mixing bowl or food processor. Add butter & lard and cut into the flour mixture using pastry cutter or pulsing food processor. The mixture should look like large crumbs and begin to cling together. Do not overmix. Sprinkle water over the dough and with hands mix until dough holds together. Shape into 2 discs. Wrap with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

CANNED CHERRY PIE FILLING
It’s always helpful to have canned pie filling on hand to whip up a quick dessert. What could be better than to make up a batch of your own homemade to have on hand!
Ingredients:
12 cups (6 pounds) frozen pitted red tart cherries, thawed in the refrigerator
3 cups sugar
9 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cherry juice (from draining thawed cherries) If not enough juice add water to make three cups
6 (16oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
Directions:
Place cherries in strainer set over a bowl to collect the juice.
Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a saucepan until blended. Combine cherry juice and water and slowly wisk into the sugar mixture. Place pan over medium heat and heat to boiling, whisking constantly until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in extract and cherries.
Ladle hot cherry pie filling into jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim, top with lid and band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
Process filled jars in boiling water canner for 35 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours.

MARBLED CHERRY PIE CAKE

Marbled Cherry Pie Cake

Ingredients:

1 Box French Vanilla cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

½ cup water

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 pint cherry pie filling

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl combine cake mix, oil, eggs, extract and water.  Once combined, beat for 2 minutes.  Pour into a greased 13”x 9” cake pan.  Drop the filling by spoonful over the batter.  Using a table knife or spoon, swirl the filling into the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Cake can be served by itself or wonderful with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

001

Scoop pie filling onto cake batter.

Swirl the filling into the cake batter

Swirl the filling into the cake batter

CHERRY PIE ICE CREAM

A refreshing treat for those hot summer days

(makes one pint)

Ingredients:

Cherry Pie Filling

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vodka (optional)

¼ teaspoon almond extract

2-3 drops red food coloring

1 cup pitted tart cherries       

Ice Cream:

½ cup whole milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

Make the pie filling first; in a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar, cornstarch, and vodka to a boil, whisking often. Boil for 1-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in almond extract and food coloring then stir in the cherries. Cool to room temperature.

Make the ice cream; in a large saucepan, warm the milk, ½ cup cream, sugar, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks until lightly beaten. Whisk in some of the warm milk mixture then pour it all back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking often, until thickened.

Place the remaining ½ cup cream and vanilla in a heatproof bowl sitting in an ice bath and place a fine mesh strainer on top. Remove the ice cream from the heat and pour through the strainer, discarding anything left behind. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold.

Once cold, churn the ice cream mixture according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Once churned, fold in the cherry pie filling. Freeze until

Hello, Governor Snyder!

Cherry harvest is a time of year when our other life activities must get put on hold. Our fruit is so perishable, we work 24/7 to harvest, deliver, and pack the best cherries to be processed into maraschino cherries, ice cream cherries, frozen tart cherries, and cherry concentrate.

Many times that means we must decline invitations to great summertime events with our non-cherry family and friends. But sometimes, we must take a few moments, break our routine, and do things that become special memories for us.

Ben received a call one evening during harvest from a man named Mike. Mike’s friend, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, was vacationing in Leland, and they wondered where they could get some tart cherries. Ben has had the opportunity to get to know the Governor over the past 4 years, and so we invited the whole group of vacationers, Governor and all, to tour our plant the next day.

Governor Snyder has had a great impact on the state of Michigan since he took office in 2012. His first piece of legislation signed into law was the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program, a law that allows farmers to verify they are using best practices and improving their environmental stewardship. For a Governor who comes from a tech background, Governor Snyder appreciates the value of agriculture and value added processing in our state.

The Governor had never been inside a cherry processing plant before. He was amazed at the laser sorting equipment, our pitters, and the technology involved in our process. We talked to him about our workforce, how challenging it is to hire 75-100 employees for 4 weeks in the summer. He asked questions, ate cherries fresh from the orchard, and got a firsthand look into our business.

Governor Snyder inspects a tank of tart cherries fresh from the orchard.

Governor Snyder inspects a tank of tart cherries fresh from the orchard.

Mike, the governor’s friend, runs a large bread business.  Mike and his wife, Stacey, were very interested our techniques and processes.  We were proud to give them a deeper appreciation for the cherry industry.

Governor Snyder and friends left that day with cherry pie from Chimoski’s Bakery, plenty of cherry concentrate, dried cherries, and maraschino cherries. We made sure they took plenty of fresh, pitted tart cherries right off the pitting line. We stocked them up with LFC logo gear.

But the most important thing we gave the tour group was an experience. When the Governor thinks about cherries, I have no doubt, he will think about Leelanau Fruit Company!

 

Glenn LaCross, Governor Rick Snyder, and Ben LaCross in front of the Leelanau Fruit plant.

Glenn LaCross, Governor Rick Snyder, and Ben LaCross in front of the Leelanau Fruit plant.