Sour Cherry Crumb Bars

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I have an obsession with sour cherries and apricots, two fruits that most people generally pass over, and I blame my Dad’s love for them as both grew prolifically in his childhood home in the Ukraine.  Our farm boasted a row of bright-red sour cherry trees which my Dad carefully tended, and each summer my parents would make the pilgrimage to Osoyoos to stock up on apricots, my mom turning both fruits into the most delicious jam.  Now that we own an Osoyoos orchard, Farmer Rob will agree that I go a bit bonkers when apricot season arrives, and during harvest I’m always saddened that my Dad never lived to see the day when he could have picked apricots from our trees.  As we’re slowly replacing our our aging orchard trees with newer, more interesting varieties, Rob’s promised me my very own row of sour cherry trees! What more could a woman possibly ask for?

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be at home pitting and processing 20 pounds of cherries.  First I’ll make sour cherry jam with Pomona’s Pectin in the same way I make apricot jam .  For each recipe I’ll use 4 cups fruit, 2 cup sugar and ⅓ less pectin (don’t change the amount of calcium water called for) than the recipe suggests because I like my jam a bit runny.  

Also, I’ll be cooking up some sour cherry simple syrup, ready to mix into club soda (or stronger!) for a refreshing summer beverage:  2 cups fruit, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, simmer about 45 minutes, strain and store in fridge. The strained, stewed cherries left over are delicious stirred into yogurt!  

I’ll freeze most in ziplock bags, 1 or 2 lbs/bag, making sure I note the size on the freezer bag, to make more jam for Christmas gifts, or to cook this delicious compote to use for just about anything that needs a fruity sauce!  

And I’ll also make this bar, which won my heart at Starbucks a few years ago, but to my dismay was discontinued so I had to create my own recipe by adapting a few I found on the web.  

Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter, cut into cubes

Cherry Filling

  • 2 cups pitted sour cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 tsp. Almond extract
Method
  1. Prepare Cherry Filling by mixing together sugar and cornstarch. Add sour cherries to a small saucepan, stir in lemon juice and cornstarch/sugar mixture. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, until thickened.  Once thickened remove from heat and stir in almond extract, let cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° and spray 9×9 inch square pan then line with parchment paper.
  3. Add all of the dry bar ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix together using your hands, or pulse in a food processor to blend.  
  4. Add butter, using a pastry blender or your hands work the mixture into crumbs/pea sized pieces. Or pulse a few times in food processor until butter is the size of peas.  It will become a soft and crumbly mixture.
  5. Add 2/3 of the crumb mixture to the prepared pan and firmly pat down. Then top with cooled cherry filling. Add evenly the remaining crumb mixture on top of the cherries. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a light golden brown.
  6. Let bars completely cool. Cut bars into 9-12 serving and serve.