Nature has been kind to the cherry crop this year. Even the heavy rains haven’t prevented from offering an abundant supply for East County’s palatal pleasure. Fresh California cherries are available at the farmers’ market from May through June, a short season, so grab them now and savor their fresh, sweet goodness.
“The cherry season is normally done by June,” said Kathey Tachella of Tachella Family Farms in Brentwood. “Memorial Day weekend is a major time for cherry picking. Our U-Pick will kick off on May 22, but we’ve had people asking about it since the beginning of the month. As soon as the sunshine’s out, people come asking about cherries.”
Tachella said this year’s cherry season might extend into June as a result of the “crazy weather” the region has experienced in the past months. “We’re at Mother Nature’s mercy. We might be cleared out by the end of the month, but we might make it a week or two into June. We’ll have to wait and see.”
California is home to more than 600 cherry growers farming more than 26,000 acres from here in the Bay Area. The fertile San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys receive nutrient-rich soil, sunny days and mild nights. These superior growing conditions result in bountiful harvests.
The early Burlat variety (tangy and dark red in color) and the Brooks variety (sweet and medium red) are the first to arrive at the market. The Bing (sweet red) and Rainier (sweet yellow/orange/red) come late in the season.
Pick up a few baskets of cherries for your next dessert recipe or try canning them as jam, chutney or pie filling to savor this winter. Add to yogurt, toss in a salad, make a flavorful sauce for meats and chicken, or just grab a handful and enjoy fresh.
The PCFMA is the state’s largest operator of certified farmers’ markets, supervising more than 60 markets weekly in the Bay Area during the peak summer months. Certified farmers’ markets offer only California-grown products sold directly to consumers by the farmers who grew, nurtured and harvested the crops. All PCFMA markets accept WIC FMNP (Woman Infant and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons) and EBT (the Golden State advantage food stamp cards).
The Brentwood Farmers’ Market is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon on First Street between Oak and Chestnut streets. The Antioch Farmers’ Market is held Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kaiser Permanente, 4501 Sand Creek Road.
Tachella Family Farms, which is featured at both the Antioch and Brentwood farmers’ markets, is located at 2017 Walnut Blvd. in Brentwood. The stand is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 925-513-8495.
For more information on Bay Area farmers’ markets, call the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at 800- 949-FARM (3276), 925-825-9090, or visit www.pcfma.com.