Exploring Michigan Cherry Farms: New Cherry Recipes for Sweet and Sour Cherries

By Carolyn Malcoun, "Cherry Picking," May/June 2012

Cherry Pie and more delicious sweet and savory recipes for cherries.

"While this is a very nice article, you have misinformed your readers about sweet cherry season in Washington State. Cherry season in Washington & Oregon usually does not start till early June & runs through most of August. The...

When I returned to Leelanau recently, I had to visit the source of those cherries. I drove up the road to Bardenhagen Farms, which covers 80 acres of rolling hills in the town of Suttons Bay. Jim Barden­hagen farms mostly Montmorency (sour) cherries, on the same land his great-great-grandfather homesteaded more than 100 years ago. He also grows Balatons, a sweeter, firmer variety of sour cherry from Hungary, and several sweet varieties, including Attika, Summit and Regina. “Attika seems to hit everyone’s flavor buds,” he says. But you won’t find the popular sweet Bing cherry in Michigan. “They crack in a fog,” Bardenhagen quipped to me in his farmhouse kitchen. While the California and Washington seasons start in May and continue through June (almost 80 percent of the sweet cherries in the U.S. are grown in these two states), the sweet-cherry season doesn’t begin in Michigan until early July—one variety ripening after another—and runs about two weeks. Then the sour Montmorencys and Balatons kick in for a couple of weeks.

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