Author Archives: quarryadmin

Summer’s Sweetness in a Jar

BROOKE’S BULLETIN

July 2019

This cherry season’s biggest fan:  Jennifer Thornton, Owner & Educator, Buttercream & Olive Oil shares her anecdotal recipe and techniques for canning cherries.  

Living in France for five years, one of my cherished memories is afternoons spent in Lolo’s cherry tree. Lolo is currently 95 years old and afternoons at his ancient Roman quarry farm were always spectacular. During cherry season, after a lengthy lunch, I would climb up into the stately cherry tree and eat as many cherries as I could until I couldn’t eat anymore. Whether they were the most delicious cherries in the world or not is debatable, but the memory of the Provençal sun and cigales singing, the company of best friends and so much delicious food, I cannot remember them being anything but the best.

That is until this summer as we ventured out to Quarry Hill for a Sunday afternoon of cherry picking. The trees were dripping with giant bunches of cherries. I will admit, I am a thoroughly devout sour cherry fan. I only stopped at 15 pounds because it was closing time. The sweet cherries were overwhelming plentiful and awe-inspiring and 20 lbs were picked easily picked in about an hour and half. These cherries are nothing short of exquisite. If you are new to picking cherries, remember the stems will keep the longer, so if you do not plan to eat or use them soon, pick with the stem. Picking your own fruit is one of life’s most gratifying delights. For me the only problem is I never know when to stop. When the fruit is plentiful and beautiful, I always think what I pick is just never enough. Of course, this really is not a bad thing and being staunchly locavore, the only cherries I eat all year will be local. This is why I freeze or can 90% of what I pick. Cherries are particularly fun to preserve through canning because no sugar is needed, in following with the USDA guidelines. This is for both sweet and sour cherries. 

Canning Whole Cherries in Lemon Juice

What you will need:

  • 15 pounds of sweet or sour cherries, whole and pitted (prefererably from Quarry Hill Orchards!)
  • Filtered water
  • 4 Organic Lemons
  • About 6 one-quart mason jars, sterilized

Prepare all the tools necessary for canning. Clean whole cherries well by triple washing in a vinegar bath. Clean your whole lemons the same way.

Pit the cherries, leaving them whole. You can get a handy little tool, but the rounded end of a bobby pin works great on the smaller fragile sour cherries and a small copper pipe works great on the plump sweet cherries.

 

 

 

While preparing the cherries, place mason jars and lids in the dishwasher and run without soap. Fill a large canning pot with water and set on the stove. In a large saucepan, add approximately 4 quarts of water to the halved lemons. Bring this to a boil.

 

 

 

 

For raw-packing, meaning the cherries are not heated before placing in the jars, add 1/2 cup hot lemon water to each jar. Fill hot jars with pitted whole cherries, shaking down gently as you fill. Add more hot liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in the boiling water bath, assuring that the water sufficiently covers the lids. Boil for 25 minutes.

*Sweet cherries or sour cherries can be canned separately or mixed together as well.

 

If this seems overwhelming, come can with me! This summer, I am offering two basic canning courses, because honestly the first time can be overwhelming. Canning is so rewarding and quite easy, but the process can be lengthy. I can about 100 or more quarts throughout the summer and as much as I love it, I always think about how it used to be done with families, friends and neighbors coming together to peel and chop and fill and boil…all in the good company of others. My canning class will hopefully bring a little of that community and have you feeling confident to go home and preserve summers bounty on your own. My July and August Canning Classes will be held in historic Medina Square. For more info, visit buttercreamandoliveoil.com

A High Season Thursday at 12:42am

tractorBEN’S BULLETIN

September 21, 2018 – 12:42 am

An email from Ben to his best pals, regarding his RSVP to his 40th birthday party in February 2019……. 

Gents-

So the sun has long since set here at the farm.  Its just me and the dogs here in the barn office.  Harvest is in full swing… the Gala crop has been picked.  Honeycrisp will be wrapped up by next week.  I usually end the day lining up our wholesale delivery trucks for tomorrow’s routes (that… along with a beer or two and a 3-minute break for a small cat nap on the desk…..). We’ll have 3 drivers rollin’ tomorrow AM.  With good weather leading into the weekend, we should see strong retail sales and plenty of folks coming out to pick their own apples.  All in all, the crop is looking good.  We will finally see good returns off of the trees Dad and I planted the first year I moved home.  Production should be the highest since my coming back.  Quality yet to be determined…

It is far too frequent during this time of year that I get swept up in the hustle of harvest.  This life Brooke and I have chosen has challenged us far beyond what I could have imagined.  Many-a-day I question whether my shoulders are broad enough to keep this thing going.  There is a constant juggle between managing a payroll of 35+ people, forecasting farm profitability (or lack thereof), making harvest & sales decisions… all while driving the forklift around our packhouse like a mad man.  I miss my wife.  I miss my kids.  I long for the tranquility of farm life that was the picture I painted for Brooke so many years ago.  But I don’t think tranquility is my nature.   

It is in these moments that leaving Austin, Texas seemed like a damned foolish idea.  Maybe because its human nature to look fondly on the past.  Maybe because I found confidence in engineering that just isn’t part of farming with Mother Nature.  Maybe because the co-workers I met in that town have turned out to be the most meaningful life-long friends.  For that last reason, this trip is gonna be epic.  I absolutely can’t wait to strap some boards on my feet and earn my turns in some of that fine “Champagne Powder” of Route County, Colorado!  After I help my wife settle into life with new baby #4 and life as a family of six – I’ll be on the plane headed Westbound to play hard.  See you Gents then.                                                                                                         -Ben-

 

Overwhelming Success at First Peach Fest!

Halle Snavely is a local food consultant and a writer. She documents the best of Northeast Ohio’s local farms through her Instagram account @oneingredientco. This is her first guest blog post for Quarry Hill Orchards.

“We already ran out of peach ice cream!” Brooke Gammie says as she greets me at the Quarry Hill Orchards Peaches and Cream Festival. It’s noon. The festival started at ten. Running out of ice cream that early tells me that it must be really good. Mason’s Creamery clearly knows what they’re doing. Brooke is busy mingling with guests and crafting the dwindling peach sorbet into a beautiful presentation that is garnished with sliced peaches, lavender buds and fresh mint leaves (garnishes courtesy of Executive Chef and friend Jamie Simpson of Culinary Vegetable Institute). I immediately become jealous that I have to photograph this work of art instead of eat it.

Vegan Peach Sorbet from Mason’s Creamery

This is the first Peaches and Cream festival at Quarry Hill, but Brooke says it’s an idea that the Gammie family has been marinating on for some time. “Bill has wanted to do an ice cream social for a while, but we haven’t had a good peach crop and I had my hands full last year with Beatrice, so I didn’t get around to it. Then I thought, ok, I gotta do it this year! And it just happened really organically. I swear 80% of the people I’ve talked to today have never been here before.”

Flower Crown Makers

It’s a heartwarming sight: kids covered from head to toe in ice cream, happy children making flower crowns, people shopping at Fancy Me Boutique, crying children and parents consoling them are peppered throughout the crowd (par for the course), adults of all ages are taking in the scene while eating black bean burgers and empanadas from The Goucho and The Gringa (who also ran out of these crowd favorites), and local musicians are serenading the crowd. The farm store is bustling with people lined up in all directions, stocking up on peaches, eating peach crepes from The Mad Batter Baking Company, and getting their hands on the latest Quarry Hill Orchards gear. (Side note: Quarry Hill’s gear is seriously legit. Any hipster or style maven would be proud to rock these t-shirts, a new collaboration with Unsalted Boutique.)

4th Gen Gammie Girls Payton and Beatrice

There is a Gammie in just about every direction I look. Even in the midst of the chaos, it’s clear from the genuine smiles on their faces that they’re really enjoying themselves. Life on the farm is always chaotic, but to see how seamlessly the Gammie’s blend work and play is a pretty good indication that they really love what they do. It truly is a family affair, and their greatest joy is being able to share their farm with others. In fact, this is what fuels their passion. Judging from the number of people who showed up, it seems their customers are feelin’ the love too.    

Caitlin Davis, who lives just down the road, recounts some of her Quarry Hill memories. “I grew up coming here, so I was not missing this! We come in the fall to the apple event, and we’ll actually be back at the winery tomorrow. There’s something special about it being family run. It just feels like home. Everyone is having a good time, kids are running around. You can’t beat that. I love it.”

Towards the end of the event, I had the chance to grab some food and interact with a few of the attendees. I met Roger and Nancy Wallace, fellow farmers and friends of the Gammie’s. They summed up the vibe pretty well. “It’s a nice family farm. There’s nothing better than to let people experience this.”

Brooke (center) with best pals Katie and Jess manning the ice cream tent (with their collective 9 kids helping out)

 

Did you attend the Peaches and Cream event?

We’d love to share some of our favorite peach recipes with you!

Please take a moment to fill out this 2-minute survey to help us improve our future events. To show our appreciation for your time, we’ll send you an email with some of our favorite peach recipes once you’ve completed to survey!