This evening, at the VegU tent, people learn how to how to pick, store, and prepare a Spicy Cherry Mock-a-jito using cherries and watermelon, from vendors at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farmers Market Night, and basil from the USDA People’s Garden in Washington, D.C., on Friday August 12, 2016.
This is a special evening “VegUcation” session with USDA employees from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and vendors volunteer as ‘VegUcators’ conducting free 10-minute fruit and vegetable classes. During this season of the outdoor USDA Farmers Markets, 26 recipes will be taught at the VegU tent. Their scheduled demonstration dates are the peak harvest time to look for these foods. The goal is to increase fruits and vegetables in meals and help people understand what is in season. Guests can receive a free recipe card, and can start shopping for ingredients at the market.
Spicy Cherry Mock-a-jito
Yields 1 serving
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 0 minutes | Total Time: 15 minutes
.75 oz Wild Roots Apothecary Rosehip Hibiscus Syrup*
.25 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
.25 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
2 oz cherry lime seltzer
1 cup ice
Small sliced spear of watermelon
Sprig regular basil or slice or twist of lemon
Squeeze lemons and limes.
Add cherries, basil, lime and lemon rinds into a small cocktail shaker** and muddle for 15 seconds.
Add syrup, lemon and lime juice to the shaker.
Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into glass with ice and top with seltzer. Stir with a spoon and garnish with chili dusted watermelon spear and a sprig of basil.
Sip and enjoy.
*Ingredient available at the USDA Farmers Market and can be substituted with black cherry juice.
**This can be substituted with a Mason jar or simply stir.
[Recipe courtesy of Wild Roots Apothecary]
HOW TO PICK
Choose the right size. Cherries should be large (at least 1-inch in diameter), plump and hard.
Look at color. Fresh green stems should still be attached. Avoid any with brown spots or that feel mushy. Cherries should be glossy and full red or purple in color.
Taste them. Fresh cherries should either taste sweet or sour.
Buy them during the right season. Cherries are in-season during the summer months from June to August.
HOW TO PREPARE
Rinse cherries only when ready to eat to extend the freshness.
Pitting cherries. Don’t have a cherry pitter? Use a round metal piping or pastry tip. Remove the stem of a room temperature cherry. Place the cherry, stem side down, over the pastry tip and push down gently. The pit will pop out and cherry stays intact.
HOW TO STORE
Cherries are highly perishable and should be refrigerated. Store unwashed cherries loosely in a plastic bag or lay them in a single layer in a shallow pan and cover with plastic wrap to prevent bruising. Use within 7 days.
Advice about freezing. Arrange pitted cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in freezer until completely frozen. Then, transfer cherries to a re-sealable plastic bag or airtight container. Although they do not have the same texture, frozen cherries can be substituted for fresh cherries in most recipes.
• Two species of cherries are cultivated - tart or sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) and sweet cherry (Prunus avium).
• Michigan is the largest tart cherry producing state in the U.S.
• 252.5 million pounds of tart cherries were produced in 2015.
USDA Media by Lance Cheung.
. Original public domain image from Flickr