Here is a city-slicker adventure in Southern California: drive to a mouthwatering cherry farm in Leona Valley, called Villa del Sol, and pick cherries! This has been on my bucket list (cuz you use a bucket!).Time to set the alarm clock, slather on sunscreen and pick us some fresh cherries.
This is an awesome day trip for families. We always hear that city kids don’t really grasp how food gets to the table. How about some good ‘ol fashioned work disguised as fun! Join Villa del Sol’s email list to get the heads-up on picking season, since it’s never the exact same time each year. The operation is impressive; they really have the experience down pat.
For us, it was a 90 minute drive from Playa Vista (near LAX) on Sunday to avoid traffic, hot sun and crowds. Check the website for hours! The farm opened at 8 AM that day and we arrived by 8:30. Every few minutes, an employee “trained” a crowd of pickers on the rules (don’t eat the cherries in the field, pull the fruit not the stems).
$55 later ($4.50 a pound), we drove on home and by 11 AM we were pitting cherries. And eating, eating, eating cherries.
PITTING METHODS – sometime during our home moves, the cherry pitter was lost. No worries, Larry used a chopstick, I used the Cake Frosting Tip (place a metal frosting tip cone on a plate, point up, push cherry onto point, pop out pit).
We lined four baking sheets with waxed paper and a single layer of cherries, covered with another layer of waxed paper, and put in the freezer for 24 hours. Then I sealed them into a couple of gallon ziplock freezer bags.
Next up… baking something special. Stay tuned.
Villa del Sol Fresh Cherry Farms: 6989 Elizabeth Lake Road, Leona Valley, CA, 93551, 661-270-1356, and the business card says Gary Shafer & Maxi Case. Info@upickcherries.com.