How Kids Can Enjoy Cherries All Summer Long
Cherry season has officially begun and Time for Lunch is letting young eaters know what that means. This Heritage Radio Network podcast is a place where kids can learn about eating, cooking, enjoying and sometimes playing with food. The show's co-host, Harry Rosenblum says, “As a parent I always try to explain things to my kids as much as possible. It's valuable for young eaters to make the connection about food and the fact that it doesn't just appear in the fridge by magic.”
Each episode takes a close look at one item or ingredient, and hosts Harry Rosenblum and Hannah Fordin have plenty of inspiration during the summer produce harvest. Harry adds that “kids don't need things to be dumbed down, they just need to have concepts explained in small pieces. Time for Lunch tries not to bite off more than we can chew by keeping the shows focused and short.” Recently they focused an entire episode on the cherry, providing lots of information about where cherries come from and how to eat them, sharing jokes, fun-facts and activities along the way.
Time for Lunch is made possible by the Michigan Cherry Committee. Michigan cherry farmers grow the wonderfully tart Montmorency cherry, which is traditionally found in cherry pie but has more recently broken out if it’s pie shell and onto the superfruit stage. The Montmorency cherry is celebrated for its versatility, nutrient density, and health benefits.
You can eat cherries fresh or cook them in a variety of different recipes. Either way, you’ll want to avoid their pits! Hannah and Harry found some interesting, delicious and playful ways to discard your cherry pits and make the most of the summer cherry season!
The Invention of Tony’s Push Button Cherry Pitter
First, Harry tracked down the origins of Tony’s Push Button Cherry Pitter.
He talked to Suzie Schlise. It was her grandfather, Mark Schlise who developed this product. Their family grew cherries in Wisconsin and Susan remembers that during the summer harvest, “the women in the family would pit the cherries to prepare them for canning or freezing.” It was hard work. Susan recalls that “we would use hair pins, bobby pins and paper clips... it was a very laborious project. And we were always complaining.” Her grandfather finally said “there had to be a better way.” The push button cherry pitter was born. Originally they used the invention in their home, but soon started sharing it with friends and neighbors. It was Suzie’s father, Tony, who started selling the product across the country. The Schlise family has now been in the cherry pitting business for 50 years.
Playing with Your Cherry Pits
Next, Hannah talked to Ben LaCross, a cherry farmer from Lake Leelanau, Michigan
Ben grows a number of cherry varieties including the Montmorency tart cherry. He says, “if you ever eat a cherry pie during the summertime, odds are that those cherries came from my backyard in Northern Michigan because Northern Michigan grows about 50% or a little bit more of all the pie cherries grown throughout the United States. And so we're proud to call my hometown the cherry capital of the world.”
Ben’s farm is a family affair. He has three kids who help out in their own way... mostly by tasting cherries. Growing up on a cherry farm has given them a lot of experience in eating and playing with their food. Ben says he’s learned that “the best part about eating a fresh cherry is spitting the pits” He shares that “my kids really have a lot of fun coming to the farm and have pit spitting contests and seeing how far they can spit the pits after they're done eating their cherries.” It’s one of Ben’s favorite things about summertime, and it may turn out to be yours too!
Julia Child’s Clafoutis
After you’ve used pitted all your cherries and challenged yourself to see how far you can spit the pits, there’s a lot you can do with the fruit itself. Hannah shares a recipe inspired by Julia Child’s clafoutis.
If you’ve never had this treat, it’s something like a combination between cake and custard. Major yum! Hannah made a couple of adjustments that make it a bit easier, but you can check out the original version in Mastering The Art of French Cooking.
Find your favorite grownup to help you make clafoutis until you get experienced enough to use the oven on your own.
First thing’s first: assemble your ingredients and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You will need an oven-proof dish to bake it in, like a glass pie dish. You want to make sure it’s at least an inch and a quarter deep.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2/3 cup sugar, divided
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 cups pitted cherries
Combine your eggs, milk, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt and mix using a whisk or blender. You want to get it nice and smooth and frothy, if you still see any lumps of flour - keep mixing! It takes about a minute.
They you’re going to lightly butter your baking dish, this will keep the clafoutis from sticking.
Next put your pitted cherries in and pour your batter over them all. You can give the dish a little shake to get out any air bubbles and to arrange your cherries.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until the custard is set - you don’t want the center to be too wiggly.
Let your clafoutis cool and enjoy!
Listen to Time for Lunch
You can listen to this episode of Time for Lunch below, or subscribe to the series wherever you get your podcasts.
Plus, if you’d like to hear your voice on the show, ask a grownup to help you record yourself using the voice memo app on an iPhone and email your questions, jokes, and recipes to [email protected].