It was the height of the cherry season in Washington State. 60% of the sweet cherry production in this country comes from the Pacific Northwest, so this was THE place to be for cherries. And Rainier cherries, named for the majestic and nearby Mount Rainier, are a cherry cultivar originally developed at Washington State University.
I was visiting a friend in Seattle for a long weekend last month, and our goal was to make cherry preserves. In California we regularly see Bing and Rainier cherries, but here I saw several other kinds of cherries as well.
On Sunday morning we ventured to the Ballard Farmers Market. Several blocks of streets were closed to through traffic and filled with stands of fresh produce and flowers, bakery items, and dozens and dozens of vendors presenting their finest goods. They close the streets from 10am to 3pm, in the vicinity of Ballard Avenue and 22nd Avenue.
This was an extraordinary farmers market. We got there when they opened to beat the crowds, and it was a good thing because by 11 am the streets were overflowing with vendors, customers, street performers, and community festivity.
We reached our goal, pitted five pounds of cherries and made excellent preserves. This winter we will have a taste of summer. What better way to celebrate the zest of summer than by enjoying the magnificent fruits of our vital earth.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander