After the warm 80 degree days of mid March, an emergency call was made to bring the bees up from their Florida winter residence early. They arrived at 7:30PM on March 28th, a cold 33 degree evening. John and the crew unloaded the bees without one sting! Very happy about that, however it has taken nearly a week for them to make any kind of movement due to the cold weather that followed their arrival. I guess we can’t blame them though… anyone would experience some shock after leaving warm Florida to cold Michigan. Hoping for the warmer days to continue and the bee movement to increase!
Tag Archive 'Cherries'
Fruit-Filled Friday Orchard Tour at King Orchards
Hey there! It’s Megan, Betsy and John’s niece. I’m going to be taking over the blog a little, along with Courtney and a few of the other “fruit stand girls”, so stay tuned to know what’s fresh at King Orchards.
Today is our first day for U-Pick raspberries! I’m definitely excited, they’re one of my favorite fruits to eat here. They look beautiful, and taste great. Bring the family and get out here! Our raspberries should last all summer, with short 1-2 week breaks in between “batches”.
If you’re wondering about when we’re getting our own sweet cherries into the market and u-pick, John says they’ll be in full-swing for the weekend. Until then, we have some delicious cherries from Grand Rapids, MI. Be sure to come in and get them while they’re fresh! -Megan K.
This post started out as a response to a feedback question from Mary White. Patty and I spent all morning on our response and we decided to post it on the blog when it got too long.
Mary has raised a great question. Why don’t we have organic fruit and why is it not easier to obtain? It sounds like such a simple question, but for today’s fruit growers it is anything but.
“We are passionate about growing great fruit” is not just our slogan here at King Orchards, and includes a commitment to doing so in the most sustainable and scientifically sound methods available. That said, there are a couple of assumptions that I would like to address.
First, pesticide free and organic are not the same thing. Organic growers have over 1500 pesticides approved for their crop protection usage. You can Google “approved organic pesticides”. You will find that both toxic and persistent chemicals can be used in organic production. Copper Sulfate, for example, builds up in soils (is persistent) and is highly toxic to fish, worms, and etc. Yet copper sulfate is widely used in organic production as a fungicide. The European Union is attempting to ban/limit the use of copper sulfate, but the organic community is resisting. Now to be fair, our ipm (integrated pest management) consultant, Hortsystems Inc., tells me that the copper usage on organic farms, that he also consults for, is not a significant threat to the soils. (The same argument non-organic growers use for our pesticides)
Second, the assumption that organic is ecologically preferable is rarely accurate. The largest organic producers in the US are in arid regions where they have cultivated fragile desert ecosystems. They are able to access irrigation water from our river systems. The dry climates greatly limit the need for fungicides and insecticides. Here in our temperate Midwest, we have fungal diseases that bloom or sporulate with each rain period. Insect fruit pests, many of which spend most of their lives in the moist soils and decaying vegetation in orchard floors, adapt to the long term fruit production cycles and create increasing problems for fruit growers. The organic grower has few viable solutions and usually relies on frequent sprays of sulfur and kaolin clay which are desiccants that cover the growing fruit and leaves to insulate and protect from pest attacks. The end result is that without real effective tools to manage pests, Midwest organic growers need much higher prices to cover their huge losses. Along with that, they spray much more frequently than do their conventional farming neighbors. To fill a bushel with organic apples, a Midwest organic farmer uses more acreage, more fuel, and more inputs, including sprays.
Many consumers may not believe me because that’s not what they have been reading and hearing. I have challenged Michigan State Extension directors in the past to publish statewide statistics on organic farming production, economics, sustainability, etc. The cash strapped University is not going to put their cash cow in a bad light. Well intentioned donors have funded chairs on organic production at the university. The organic farming school is well attended and growing. Extension hosts small farm conferences throughout the state that are well attended and create revenue for the university. Since the internet, meetings for conventional growers see much smaller attendance. The points in question are; how many organic fruit producers do we have in Michigan now verses 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago? How many have been in business all those years versus how many are new? What percentage of organic growers income is derived from organic farming? (How many organic farmers live off farming versus outside income). In how many cases does conventional farming subsidize the organic portion of a farm?
I don’t know the answers to all of those questions but I feel that the facts would be valuable to growers on all sides of the debate.
I want to point out that in America last year we fed Americans and still exported $23 billion more than we imported. A business of this magnitude will of course have negative side effects, including persistent chemicals in water, erosion, depleted soils, etc. We should make it our goal to remedy these real problems and find better alternatives to persistent chemicals, better systems for soil management etc. I believe that organic programs at our universities may find some of the solutions to these problems. However, I do not believe that we should throw out science in the very serious business of agriculture. The organic movement has actually harmed the advancement of new and better farming methods by diverting so much research and funding away from progressive technologies. I am not willing to forgo the use of effective safe pesticides just because they were synthesized, or derived from a petroleum product. (Almost all of our pesticides break down quickly and do not show up as residues in food.) When making pesticide choices we do always opt for the best ecological choice even when that might cost more.
Frequent references to organic food by food editors has created an illusion that there is a “local organic alternative” available. And, by implication, that conventionally grown local food is less safe and less desirable. The truth in the Midwest is that very few organic farmers have been able to make it work for any volume of production and that there are only very limited amounts of local organic fruit. I am not opposed to organic farmers and those who want to have organic food, (we have become friends with a large cherry grower with an organic block and we frequently share ideas) however, I do not agree that organic is better food, is safer, or is more sustainable. The opposite has proven to be true in Michigan.
For us the goal is to grow the safest, best quality fruit, and to make a living doing it, and at the same time leave the farm in the same or better shape than when me moved here. I expect to adopt new practices that help us to do a better job, but, Organic is not a goal of ours because it rules out too many wonderful advancements in growing fruit.
There’s still time to get that last minute cherry gift out to a loved one for Christmas. If you place an order by noon on December 21st, we can get it packed up and shipped for arrival within the U.S. by Thursday the 24th.
The “Party Pleaser” (featuring chocolate covered dried cherries and our new Nuts about Cherries trail mix), the “To Your Health” gift package (cherry juice, cherry capsules, and no-sugar dried cherries) and the “Cherry Lovers Gift Box” (with a little bit of everything cherry) are all excellent choices. Also fantastic are our tart cherry preserves, cherry salsa, cherry butter, tart cherry pepper jelly (pour it over cream cheese, surround with crackers and voila! Instant appetizer!) and spiced tart cherry jam.
With the flat rate priority mail shipping boxes, “If it fits, it ships.” A medium box holds a nice selection of items and ships for $9.85. The larger box offers even more room and goes anywhere within the U.S. for $13.50.
Apples and cherries and chocolate, Oh my! If we work quickly, we can still get apples delivered for Christmas too, like this nice selection of Honeycrisp apples and King Orchards Montmorency cherry products that Lynn just put together for one of our customers.
Many locations are still deliverable by UPS ground shipping in time for Christmas, too. They will be delivering through Christmas Eve. You can use the map below to determine time in transit, or give us a call toll-free at 877-937-5464 and see what we can do for you.
Take the Cherry Challenge (page 60 of the September 2009 issue of Prevention magazine or see our 8/25 blog post) then scroll down to check your answers.
1-C: Melatonin is a naturally occurring antioxidant in Tart Cherries that helps maintain normal sleep patterns. Tart cherries are one of the few known food sources of melatonin. Dr. Russel Reiter, a leader in melatonin research, gives tart cherries high marks for their melatonin content. “We were surprised at how much melatonin was in cherries, specifically the Montmorency variety,” says Reiter. “Cherry juice concentrate, which involves greatly reducing the water content, has ten times the melatonin of the raw fruit.”
2-B: Montmorency dried tart cherries were certified heart healthy by the American Heart Association.
“Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans today, so it’s important we continue researching ways people can improve their diet to help reduce key risk factors,” said Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory. “We know excess body fat increases the risk for heart disease. This research gives us one more support point suggesting that diet changes, such as including cherries, could potentially lower heart disease risk.”
3-B: Yes. Research indicates tart cherries have substantial amounts of potent antioxidants including melatonin and anthocyanins. These and other compounds found in tart cherries are believed to maintain healthy joints and a healthy cardiovascular system, among other benefits.
4-C: Tart cherry juice after a workout is the way many athletes speed muscle recovery.
5-C: ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (measuring the antioxidant capacity of foods). We sent King Orchards Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate to Brunswick Labs in Massachusetts for antioxidant testing. Their lab results reflected 7,077 ORAC units per one ounce of cherry juice concentrate.
So, how’d you do? We’d like to know.
As seen in the September 2009 issue of Prevention magazine.
CHECK OUT YOUR CHERRY SMARTS!
- 1. Melatonin is:
A. The color of a melon.
B. A mythical Greek goddess.
C. A naturally occurring antioxidant in Tart Cherries that helps maintain normal sleep patterns.
2. Were Montmorency Dried Tart Cherries certified heart healthy by the American Heart Association?
A. I don’t think so.
B. I know so.
3. Do Tart Cherries help sustain healthy joints?
4. What helps speed post-exercise muscle recovery?
A. More exercise.
B. A Boston cream donut.
C. Tart Cherry Juice.
- 5. Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate has an ORAC rating of over 7000 units per serving, making it very healthy indeed. ORAC:
A. Vacuums your floors.
B. Is a global intelligence-gathering satellite system.
C. Stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (measuring the antioxidant capacity of foods)
The Answer to Everything
Check tomorrow’s blog update (8/26/2009) for answers.
Help! We’re being overrun by cucumbers!!!
If we can’t get to the phones, it’s because we can’t make it through the mountains of pickling and slicing cukes we’ve harvested from our gardens. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to plant 5 acres
Here’s what we’re offering this week:
Veggies: Now available at both markets: good quality slicing cukes (not too fat) and pickling cukes (sand-free). Our sweet corn is here: golden fresh and sweet. We also have lots of our own zucchini and summer squash in the market, plus amazing melons, juicy tomatoes and crisp, tasty peppers direct from Bay City.
Cherries: Last chance for delicious, fresh tart cherries. Get ‘em while you can, most likely through the middle of the week. If you absolutely can’t make it by then, you’re still in luck. We’re now offering frozen pitted tart cherries and sweet cherries as well. So many ways to enjoy this Northern Michigan favorite… What’s yours?
Peaches: Our Early Glo peaches are ready for picking. These are sweet and delicious; great for eating! Just a little while longer for the Red Haven canning peaches, which we’re expecting the last week of August.
Nectarines: They should be ready around the same time as the Red Havens. So far, it’s looking like the last week of August to enjoy these.
Apricots: The apricots are delicious and firm, still going strong. Come and U-Pick or find them ready to go at the market.
Blueberries: Direct from West Olive, we’re got luscious, plump blueberries-great for eating and making desserts.
Flowers: We have big, beautiful sunflowers available to U-Pick and in our market. We also have a plethora of statice: a bright, colorful way to brighten up your home or office.
1 tablespoon dried tart cherries
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons fruit-flavored vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop cherries, onion and garlic in food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add fruit-flavored vinegar, orange juice and honey; puree. With food processor on, slowly add olive oil; mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans (16 ounces each) tart cherries
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 to 5 drops red food coloring, optional
Favorite pastry for two-crust pie
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Filling: In a 3-quart saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Drain the liquid from the canned cherries into the saucepan; set cherries aside. Stir the cherry liquid into the sugar mixture until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently; continue cooking 1 minute or until mixture is thickened and slightly translucent. Remove from the heat, stir in the reserved tart cherries, dried cherries, almond extract and, if desired, food coloring.
Roll out bottom pastry between 2 sheets of lightly floured waxed paper. Place the pastry in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan, letting the excess extend over the edge. Spoon in the cherry filling. Roll out top pastry and place over filling. Flute or crimp edges. Cut several slits in top crust to vent pie. Or, you can make a lattice top crust, whichever suits your family. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar onto the pastry strips. Place pie on the top rack in oven and place a baking sheet or piece of foil on lower rack to catch any drips.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes before cutting.
Makes 10 servings. From the Cherry Marketing Institute.