It’s almost the end of May and we are in mid-cherry season. Last weekend, I went cherry picking for the very first time with my family. It was surprisingly fun. I always thought cherry picking involved climbing ladders and getting cherry stained. But it had none of that! It was so easy and relaxing.
All you need is a bucket and your hand! You could bring a small step ladder, but all the trees on this farm were reachable. I did jump a few times to pick some extra plumped cherries on higher branches just for fun.
We picked a total of 18 pounds of cherries. I don’t know about you, but that’s the most cherries I have ever bought in my life! I had to figure out what to do with all those cherries. Sure we could eat them, but fresh cherries only last over a week in the refrigerator which means we have to eat at least a pound of cherries a day between my family and I. Yikes!
So here’s what I did with our cherries. I pitted almost 3 quarters of my cherries for freezing and baking. I had no cherry pitter but a chopstick and a glass bottle worked splendidly. Just place the cherry on top of the bottle and push down the chopstick into the bottle and voila, the pit is in the bottle! My hands were definitely a little sore afterward but it was well worth it! Then I froze around 2 pounds per freezer bag for future use. I flattened the bag before I froze the cherries because it will be easier to break off pieces from the frozen block of cherries.
The next thing I did was I searched up a bunch of fresh cherry recipes. The one that caught my attention was a Cherry Oat Bar recipe because it’s portable! Unlike a cherry crumble that falls apart after the first serving, these cherry bars are easy to pack and share with family and friends. The recipe I found is a healthier adaptation of Starbucks Michigan Cherry Oat Bar from A Dash of Sanity. The ingredients remind me of my breakfast granola. Lots of oats with brown sugar.
I made a couple of changes to the recipe by adding some chopped walnuts and using multigrain oats for extra crunch. For the filling, I doubled the recipe since I had a surplus of cherries. The extra filling is really handy because I can freeze it for next week’s baking session.
Fresh Cherry Oat Bars (Yield: 9 servings)
Level: (easy to hard)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes, plus cooling
- 1 1/4 cups flour*
- 1 cup quick oats*
- 3/4 cup multigrain oats (or rolled oats)*
- 1 cup brown sugar*
- 1/2 cup chopped walnut (optional)*
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup room temperature butter*
Cherry Filling (feel free to double the filling recipe and freeze it for the next bake)
- 2 1/2 cups fresh pitted cherries*
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup brown sugar*
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch (mix well with 2 tablespoon of cold water before adding to the heated pan)
- juice of one lemon*
- Prepare filling by heating cherries, water, brown sugar and lemon juice in a pot over medium heat until it boils.
- Stir in cornstarch and cold water solution into the boiling pot. Turn down the heat to medium low and stir constantly for 10 minutes until it has thickened to a jam consistency and the cherries have softened. Add more cornstarch water solution if it is not thick enough or add water to dilute the filling. Remove from heat and let it cool. You can make the filling a day in advance and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cut the butter into roughly 1/2 inch cubes or pea sized pieces and mix the butter into the dry ingredients. You can mix with your hands or use a pastry blender to reach a crumbly consistency.
- Line your 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper and add in 2/3 of the crumb mixture. Press down the mixture to create a tighter crumb base.
- Add a thick layer of cherry filling over the crumb base.
- Add the remaining 1/3 crumb mixture on top of the cherries (don’t need to press this time).
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until it reaches a light golden brown top.
- Cool completely and cut into 9 bars and serve. It is perfect with a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
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