The season for sweet cherries is short, usually May to June, but they are well worth the wait. With so many varieties available at your farmers market that are not found elsewhere, I recommend stocking up for spring salads, desserts, jams/preserves, sauces and freezing for later use.
At the Concord Farmers Market, you’ll find more than a dozen varieties of California sweet cherries from Gotelli & Sons Farm. This family-run business began when patriarch Joe Gotelli emigrated from Italy and planted cherries along the Calaveras River near Stockton in the 1920s.
The farm now represents three generations who run the operation. Joe’s sons Al and Del expanded beyond the initial acreage. In 1954, in partnership with John and Mel Oneto, the brothers formed Oneto-Gotelli Packing. They now have more than 300 acres in Stockton and Acampo.
Drew Rotner married into the Gotelli family and attends farmers markets while continuing to work the orchards. “This year’s early rain brought some relief to drought-stricken areas of California, but we wish there had been more,” he noted.
Late rains can cause cracking and cosmetic defects in cherries already formed, while winds can destroy blossoms so cherries cannot form. This hardship faced by many cherry growers this year serves as a reminder that we are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
It requires patience, vigilance and hard work to bring in a successful and abundant crop. Pruning, watering and fertilizing goes on throughout the year for a harvest that brings daily pickings for only two or three months.
“We pick our cherries by hand on a daily basis because the individual cherries in a cluster ripen at different rates and then immediately put them into cold storage until they are loaded on the truck for the day at the market. This ensures high quality for our customers,” said Shelby, one of the Gotelli daughters now working at the orchard.
Missy Gotelli, who runs day-to-day farm operations, is always looking for ways to improve the quality of their cherries and is pleased that customers come back each year to enjoy their cherries. Look for the popular Brooks and Bings to arrive at the market’s red and white tent first, then Rainiers and other varieties follow.
Visit pcfma.org to watch our video on Gotelli Farms.
Grandma Harvey’s Cherry Cobbler
(From Gotelli & Sons Farms’ grandmother)
- ¾ c. sugar
- 3 T melted butter
- 1 c. flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ c. milk
- 2 c. or more pitted cherries
- 1 c. sugar
- One T cornstarch
- 1 c. boiling water
Preheat oven to 350.
Place cherries in the bottom of a 9-inch square pan.
Mix ¾ c. sugar, butter, flour, salt, baking powder and milk into a loose dough. Spread dough over cherries.
Combine 1 c. sugar and cornstarch. Stir in boiling water. Pour mixture over dough. Bake 45 minutes. Serve warm.