Now, this isn't really a new thing, as I've always loved them and literally grew up surrounded by cherries. We lived on the border between Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, California, and some of my fondest memories include trips with my mom to C.J. Olson's orchards (back before that giant condo development monstrosity killed off all the beautiful trees... *sigh*). There, we would buy as many luscious, dark red cherries as we could fit into the back of her car. We'd polish off about half a pound by the time we got home and proceed to make jams and other lovely desserts. Every year I try to buy at least one large batch of cherries to continue this tradition, but this year I seem to have gone a little overboard! It seems like every time I visit the farmer's market, I have to buy at least one pound of these sweet, juicy orbs of happiness.
On this weekend's trip to my favorite under-the-freeway market I got a little nutty and ended up buying some Brooks & Rainiers (couldn't resist the super low price of $1.75/lb! And they were actually GOOD!), among many other tasty fruits & veggies. I already had a fresh cherry granita in mind, but when I got home I realized I still had several gorgeous strawberries leftover from a super sweet find my mom & I had scored the previous weekend, not to mention one last box of blackberries. Combining all of these to make a sinfully sweet and gorgeous granita seemed like a fabulous idea, and it definitely was. This is a perfect summertime dessert and a nice alternative to the usual jams & preserves that most berries & cherries become during this season. And with a little careful shopping at your local stores and farmer's markets, this dessert is as refreshing for your wallet as it is for the palate.
Fresh Cherry-Berry Granita (makes 6-8 servings; total cost per serving: $1)
2 c pitted fresh Brooks or Bing cherries
1 c sliced fresh strawberries
1 8 oz. package fresh blackberries
1 c water
1/2 c sugar
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Combine the berries & cherries in a food processor and purée until almost smooth (leave a little texture to make things interesting). Quickly boil together the water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Combine the fruit purée and simple syrup in a large bowl and stir together well. Pour the mixture into a 9" x 11" metal pan and place in the freezer. After 30 minutes, scrape the edges toward the center of the pan with a fork and return to freezer. Repeat this process every 30 minutes until you end up with icy, flaky crystals of dessert. Serve with extra berries for garnish, store the rest in an airtight container and enjoy!