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Make the most of Ontario cherry season

July 21, 2022  ByColleen Cross


Guelph, Ont. – July brings with it more than the best of the summer weather — it is also the time of year when Ontario cherries are ripe and ready for harvest.

The Montmorency Tart Cherry — common in Ontario orchards — are fat free and a great source of vitamin C and Vitamin A. Sweet cherries are a good source of Vitamin C and fibre. Juicy and delicious, Ontario cherries are the perfect choice for a snack on their own; but they also make a great ingredient, and not just in desserts.

To encourage more people to think about local food when preparing their dishes, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s (OFA) Home Grown initiative is offering a few ideas to incorporate fresh cherries into your menu (all recipes are courtesy of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers).

While often thought of as an addition to dessert, there is place on the table for savoury cherry dishes. Tart cherries can serve as the base of a sweet and spicy sauce that is an excellent coating for your chicken wings.

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If the occasion calls for something a little more fancy (and quite frankly, less messy) than chicken wings, try a tart cherry chestnut stuffed turkey roulade. Looking as good as it tastes, the cherries are a key element to the stuffing, but are also used to make a sauce as a topping, a replacement for the cranberries that are typical with turkey.

Not just for the main dishes, try something new with a classic cornbread by folding in some cherries before baking. Not only does it add a blast of flavour, but it also gives the golden loaf a splash of colour.

If refreshments are in order — particularly of the adult variety — a sparkling red cherry punch hits the spot on a summer day. For the kids, a sweet cherry lemonade is simple to put together and a tasty treat. The health conscious can try a sweet black cherry and orange smoothie, with all natural ingredients and no added sugar.

But it is desserts where cherries really shine. Cherry tarts are a classic treat; an added twist with hazelnuts will have people coming back for more. A tasty tart cherry sauce is an incredible topper for a bowl of ice cream or frozen yogurt, balancing the sweetness of the frozen treat. This simple three-ingredient sauce will take your dessert to the next level.

Did you know that Canada is home to four diverse types of native cherry trees? Each variation has different flavours and recipes. Packed with nutrition, these sweet fruits have been used for cooking, snacking and their health benefits for decades.

OFA’s Home Grown campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of preserving Ontario farmland to produce food, fuel, flowers and fibre. It’s a key issue for the province; based on data from the last Census of Agriculture, Ontario is losing an average of 319 acres of productive farmland every day. This is a worrisome decline for what is arguably the province’s most essential natural resource — the arable land with which we feed people across Ontario, Canada and the world.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture represents more than 38,000 farm families across the province and champion their interests through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. For more information, visit ofa.on.ca.

Home Grown, a public awareness initiative of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, advocates for the importance of Ontario farms as a source of food, fuel and fibre. The campaign aims to help develop a workable plan to guide responsible development in Ontario, ensuring growth to provide housing and support local tax bases while also protecting productive farmland.


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