Cherry season is in full swing across Niagara, and farmers are reporting a bumper crop this year.
In honour of National Cherry Day on July 16, here's a roundup of the best ways to celebrate the fleshy drupe in West Niagara.
So, whether you prefer them sweet or sour, pre-picked or off-the-tree, in pies or in beer, make sure you make the most of Niagara’s fleeting cherry season.
From Lincoln to Grimsby, West Niagara is blessed with an abundance of farm stalls across the region. Apart from picking the fruit yourself, this is the freshest way to get your cherry fix.
There are a bunch of fruit stands across the region, and many can be found on rural roads from Jordan to Grimsby.
Hot spots include King Street through Jordan, Vineland and Beamsville and Main Street West in Grimsby.
Just remember, not all of the stalls have card machines, so be sure to take cash.
PICK YOUR OWN
The freshest way to get your cherries, and also a fun activity in itself, is by picking your own cherries. It lets you taste the fruits of your own labour, which will probably make them taste all the more sweet (or sour, depending on your taste). Straw hat and denim overalls are optional.
Cherry Avenue Farms (4303 Cherry Ave., Vineland Station) is one option, though bear in mind that they expect to sell out by Sunday. Check their website for availability.
Hildreth Farms (5529 Greenlane, Beamsville) also lets you pick your own and hope to have some cherries left to pick over the weekend. Call ahead for availability on 905-563-4423.
Fieldtree Farms (3739 John St., Beamsville) is another option and offers cherry picking until July 16. Call ahead for availability on 289-690-3044.
If you have thirst that only cherries can quench, then you can grab some cherry juice concentrate from Cherry Lane (4230 Victoria Ave., Vineland Station). And, if you can’t make it out to their store, it’s also available at Sobeys locations across Ontario.
If you prefer your drink fermented, then you’re in luck: Bench Brewing (3991 King St, Beamsville) launched a new sour beer with Niagara fruit on July 13, just in time for National Cherry Day. It’s brewed with cherries from Cherry Lane, along with peaches and golden plums from their Niagara neighbours.
The brewery also offers the Cherry Wildwood, a sour ale brewed with cherries from Cherry Lane.
EAT THEM BAKED
We may argue whether to serve them hot or cold, with or without ice-cream, but we can all agree that cherry pies are top-tier desserts.
And in Niagara, you can pick up cherry pies and tarts from bakeries across the region, including Peach Country Farm Market (4490 Victoria Ave, Vineland Station), which bakes crumble pies and tarts using their own cherries. Or 13th Street Bakery, which operates as part of 13th Street Winery (1776 Fourth Ave., St. Catharines).
Rounding off the list is Blossom Bakery (2323 Honsberger Ave., Lincoln), which has just baked a batch of cherry pies using homegrown fruit, and also have sour cherry pies on sale.
Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News