Sour Cherry Crisp

Well, friends, I had my very first urban foraging experience. It was exhilarating. (And no, it does not only refer to dumpster diving -- not that I'm opposed to that when done correctly).

I learned of a sour cherry tree on the corner of West Cold Spring Lane and the 83 off ramp. So, after work one day, I ambitiously drove over that way, parked in a nearby neighborhood, and walked over to where I imagined the tree to be. Plastic bag in hand, I walked. And walked. It was really only a quarter mile or so, but at first I was worried I wouldn't be able to find the tree. Suddenly, I saw a dirty sidewalk with smashed cherries all on the ground. Bingo!

Looking up, I saw the cherries. They were pretty high. I stretched out my hand, grabbed a branch, and pulled it down in order to reach the cherries. Stretching even higher, I picked and picked. After 20 minutes, I had a crick in my neck and half a pound of cherries. If only I'd had a ladder to get more!

I must have looked silly, wearing my work clothes and sandals, and picking cherries while cars whizzed by on a 4-lane busy road. But I didn't care, I just wanted those cherries!

I pitted my haul and looked up recipes. Inspired by Bon Apetit and Martha Stewart, I created my own Sour Cherry Crisp. The top is toasty oats with almonds and cinnamon. The filling has just a touch of sugar and a splash of lemon. It was really nice with vanilla ice cream, but I bet Greek yogurt or whipped cream would be lovely as well.

Have you every gone urban foraging? It's fun. I'm hoping to harvest some mulberries from the tree down the street from my house when they are ripe. Even if you only know of fruit trees that are in someone's yard, go ahead and ask if they'd like to share or trade. There are also edible "weeds" that grow everywhere, some with fun names like "fiddlehead." See if you can find an urban foraging tour in your area. They can show you how to gather a salad from a field or park. Just be aware of whether the soil contains toxins or lead. I would never forage from a vacant lot because lead paint was everywhere in Baltimore. But I would forage from a park. Just need to learn what to look for!
Sour Cherry Crisp
Serves 9

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
Mix together ingredients in bowl and cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

2 pounds sour cherries, pitted
1 lemon, juiced
2-4 tablespoons raw sugar (adjust sugar depending on how sour your cherries are; mine were ripe and a bit sweet)
Mix together in bowl. Butter 8" x 8" baking dish and pour cherry mixture in. Sprinkle oat mixture on top. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve with fresh whipped cream, ice cream, or thickened yogurt.

Printable Recipe

Other posts you may enjoy:

Nutty Coconut and Cherry Granola

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp