A Fall Festival Celebrating… Maraschino Cherries?

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The second weekend of October may have been the nicest fall weekend Northern Michigan has experienced in years. Blue skies, bright sunshine, and 70 degree temps encouraged people to get outside and celebrate fall. Apples, pumpkins, wine, color tours. Fall festival season was in full swing.

 

That Saturday, the team at Leelanau Fruit Company put on our own Fall Festival of sorts. We were honored to open our Buckley plant to US Senator Gary Peters. Senator Peters is in his first term in the Senate, and he has spent significant time in the Traverse City area getting to know our communities, our people, and our businesses.

 

We invited several local businesspeople to share their stories and meet Mr. Peters. We served a lunch that revolved around cherries and the businesses we partner with. Pleva International grilled their signature cherry-blended Plevalean burgers. We served Great Lakes Potato Chip Company’s Cherry Barbecue chip, which is made with real cherries! Our beverage of choice was cherry juice, mixed with our own cherry concentrate. Dessert was Moomer’s Cherries Moobilee ice cream, which features our ice cream cherries, topped with one of our stem-on cocktail cherries.

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I’ve had many chances to work with legislators on many issues. I’ve always felt it’s best to reinforce the message with a personal story. We reinforced our message with food. How can it get any better than that!

 

This meeting was a great opportunity for us as industry leaders to give Senator Peters some background on the complexities of the cherry industry. We highlighted some ways we believe we can grow the industry, strengthening Michigan’s farms and value-added processors. Senator Peters asked thoughtful questions and is excited to support the industry in those goals.

 

We toured the plant, showing the Senator and other guests our processes. We talked about our 150 kW solar array, how that installation allowed us to control some of our high energy costs. And of course, we gave the Senator a piece of fruitcake, featuring our fruit mix, on a to-go plate!

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Our team at LFC enjoyed hosting the tour. We are passionate about the cherry industry and are proud of our place in it. For us, it is fun to share that passion and excitement with policy makers, local businesspeople, and the community.

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The Best Cherry Pie Ever!

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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.