So Berry Hot

After working all day on the farm, not much of my brainpower is left to come up with clever titles…and it is quite hot outside! I hope all of you are staying cool and enjoying your summer.

IMG_4123Fruit Available

Peaches - Summer Serenade is back for one last encore. Take a moment and sample one if you’re at market – you won’t be disappointed. Delicious sweetness that practically drips flavor. If you tried our grilled peach recipe from last week and run out of ideas for your peaches, here’s another great way to use peaches! Or if you’re more of an ice cream person, try these fresh peach shakes.

Blueberries -everyone is loving these Blue Crop berries. I had a record going last Saturday at market – everyone who sampled one of these blueberries bought some! Sweet, large, and full of flavor. Email us to reserve your 5pound or 10pound box for pick-up on Saturday, because we can’t seem to keep blueberries on our tables.apricots

Apricots - our Goldcot #5s are full of tangy flavor, even though a little drier than usual. Ranging between small and large in size, these apricots are very tasty. (Picture on the right.)

Nectarines -sweet, juicy, and crisp. They resemble a peach without the hair, and taste a little like a tarter version of a peach. Nectarines are in limited supply this year.

Plums -we have several different varieties right now; Early Gold, Early Magic and Methly for fresh eating and desserts, and Vibrant for cooking. The Vibrant plums are dark and purple and much larger than the sweet eating plums, which range in color from gold to shades of red.

Black raspberries -the black raspberries are sweeter than normal this week, with a lot of flavor. The more you eat these, the harder it is to stop eating them! If you love black raspberries but hate the seeds, try our black raspberry preserves. Spread some preserves on toast or make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

Red raspberries - our red raspberries are a continual favorite at markets. Full of raspberry flavor, these big reds (in varieties Nova, Encore and Octavia) can be eaten fresh, made into jam, or baked into some amazing brownies.

Sweet cherries - will only be around for a few more weeks, so get them while you can! We have Hudsons right now, which are firm, sweet, and have a great flavor. Even if you can’t eat them all right now, this is your last chance to stock up until next year.

Tart cherries -right now we have Balatons, our favorite type of tart cherry. Very firm and dark burgundy in color, perfect for making a flavorful cherry pie for your “Billy boy”!

Mary’s brown eggs - these delicious, healthy eggs can be used in everything. Although we don’t offer Mary’s brown eggs at every market, they are a big hit wherever they go. These eggs have won awards!

mary's eggs

Add it to the Recipe Book

One thing we almost always sell out of by the end of the day is blueberries! Our blueberries are delicious: a combination of sweet and tart varieties with lots of flavor. Blueberries are the ultimate sign that summer is here and it’s staying for while. When you stop by the market, sample one! I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Blueberry Tart

You will need:

1 8-ounce sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

2 cups Ellis Family Farms blueberries (this would mean buying one pint of blueberries at market!)

Flour for your work surface


Heat oven to 375° F. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the sheet of pastry and roll it into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using the tip of a knife, score a 1-inch border around the pastry without cutting all the way through. Brush the border with the egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake until golden and puffed, 18 to 22 minutes. Using the tip of a knife, rescore the border of the cooked pastry without cutting all the way through. Gently press down on the center of the pastry sheet to flatten it. Let cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the cream, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly within the borders of the pastry. Arrange the blueberries in a single layer over the filling and sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

And that’s all for now, folks! I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

Come and visit us at one of our markets – even if you don’t need some delectable fresh fruit, we always enjoy seeing your smiles and spending a few minutes visiting with you.


queen anne's lace

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Peachy Keen

See what I did there?

Hello from Ellis Family Farms! It’s another warm, sunshiny day at the farm. It’s a little too warm for me, but all the sunshine is great for the fruit.

Fruit Available

Peaches – the Summer Serenade variety is in its element, and if you’re not singing after you bite into this peach, I will be shocked! The Summer Serenade is cling and the fruit is yellow melting. Perfect for eating fresh, salads, or grilling, but this variety isn’t ideal for baking or canning.

Blackberries - the Triple Crown variety is ready, which is a mix of sweet and slightly tart blackberries. Tip: the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. It’s true! These blackberries are good for fresh eating, jam, and baking. Unfortunately, blackberries will only be available at Green City Market this week, because of limited availability.

Plums - we have Early Golden, and their name describes their beautiful color. These plums are nice and juicy, a golden-sweet explosion of flavor. In my experience, children prefer the flavor of these plums over their darker, tarter cousins. Early Goldens aren’t good for baking or cooking, so make sure you get some to eat fresh.

Blueberries - the Bluecrop is in season right now. (Makes sense, right?) These tasty blueberries are large and sweet. Good for fresh eating, baking, jams and jellies, freezing, and pies! We recommend using a blueberry pie recipe from Hoosier Mama Pie Company’s amazing cookbook. You can get a copy here or even better, visit them in person and pick up a copy at their bakery.

Red Raspberries - there will be a mix of Encore, Nova, and Laurens at market this week. Don’t ask us to tell them apart, because they’re all big, sweet, and delicious. These varieties are wonderful for fresh eating, jam, and dessert. I eat fresh red raspberries in the morning with my granola and yogurt!

Black Raspberries - Jewel, Bristol, and McBlack are the varieties we have this week. Make sure to sample one at market, because the taste might surprise you. Black raspberries have more seeds than red raspberries, but they taste delightful.

Sweet cherries - the Titan sweet cherries are large and dark, and as sweet as candy. Grab a pint or two at market, give them a little rinse, and start eating!

Tart cherries - tart as all get-out and a beautiful burgundy shade, the Balaton variety is excellent for making cherry brandy. These cherries are also optimal for pies and salads, and they can be frozen.

Add it to the Recipe Book

If you’ve never tried grilled peaches, now is your chance! Grilled peaches are an easy, delicious summer dish. You can make grilled peaches as a dessert or as a savory side dish and they’re just as tasty both ways.

Grilled Peaches

You will need:

4 fresh peaches from Ellis Family Farms, halved and pitted

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Butter for grilling

Vanilla ice cream, optional


Preheat grill or grill pan to medium. In a small bowl, mix sugar with cinnamon. Brush cut side of peaches lightly with melted butter. Oil grill with butter or olive oil. Place peaches cut-side down on grill and cook until grill marks appear, 3 to 4 minutes. Brush bottoms lightly with remaining butter and turn peaches over. Sprinkle sugar mixture over cut side of peaches, cover grill and cook until sugar has melted and caramelized and peaches are easily pierced with a sharp paring knife, about 3 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately with ice cream, if desired.

Grilled Peaches Savory

You will need:

6 fresh peaches from Ellis Family Farms, halved and pitted

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

salt and ground pepper to taste


Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Whisk olive oil, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Allow flavors to combine for 5 minutes. Brush oil mixture on inside flesh of peach halves. Grill peaches, flesh sides down until softened and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes. The savory grilled peaches are delicious as a side for pork or chicken.

I would try both recipes at least once. Grilled peaches are the BEST.

That’s all for now, folks!

See you tomorrow at market. And remember, besides our markets in Chicago, we also have a new location at the Farmer’s Market in St. Joseph, Michigan.


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Summertime Sweetness

Hello from Ellis Family Farms! I hope that everyone had a great holiday.

patriotic fruitWe’re well into the summer fruit season, and everyone is very busy at Ellis Family Farms.

Whether it’s checking on the trees and bushes, picking the ripened fresh fruit, or relaxing after a long day of work, there’s always something to do at the farm.


Fruit Available

Sweet cherries  – the varieties are Rainier and Sam. The Rainier cherries are actually even sweeter than the Sams this year, but this is their last week at market, so get them while you can! The Sam variety is great for eating and would also be ideal for jams and jellies.

Tart cherries – who doesn’t love a good cherry pie?! Right now we have Mt. Morency. We wouldn’t suggest trying these at market, however, as eating them straight can make for some interesting facial expressions.

If you need some easy ways to pit cherries, check out this article and this one. There are also small, easy-to-use Mason jar cherry-pitters. I grew up using those every summer while preparing the cherries for jam.

Red raspberries – we have varieties Prelude or Nova. These red raspberry varieties are great for jam. They are not overwhelming sweet, and they have a lot of flavor.

Black raspberries – McBlack is the current variety. Many people ask if black raspberries taste like blackberries or red raspberries, and the answer is neither. They have a unique, delicious flavor all their own.

Blueberries – make some blueberry pancakes for your loved ones with these amazing Duke blueberries. They’re sweet enough to be eaten right out of the container or sprinkled on top of vanilla ice cream for a creamy summer dessert.

Upcoming Fruits

In just a couple weeks, we will be selling the first peaches, apricots, and plums. Stay tuned for further updates.

Add it to the Recipe Book

Our featured recipe this week is delicious and yet simple, requiring only a few ingredients. If you love ice cream with fresh fruit, this one’s for you! The photo features Rainier sweet cherries.

Warm Cherry Sauce with Vanilla Ice Cream

Rainier cherries on the farm Ingredients:

1 lb. pitted sweet cherries from Ellis Family Farms, juices reserved

1/4 cup kirsch (clear cherry brandy)

1/4 cup dry red wine

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Vanilla ice cream


Pour juice from cherries into a glass cup. Add kirsch. Add enough red wine to measure 1 cup. Stir 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in small saucepan until no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in wine mixture, then cherries. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce boils, thickens and is translucent, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in almond extract. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before serving.)

Divide vanilla ice cream among bowls. Spoon warm sauce over and serve immediately.

Enjoy your dessert!

See you next Saturday at Ellis Family Farms.



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Plum Pancake

  • Ingredients
  • 3 plums, washed and thinly sliced
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Maple syrup, warmed, for serving or our family warms up a jar of plum butter

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the plum slices with 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, the eggs and 1/4 cup melted butter until combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; pour the buttermilk mixture and pecans into the well and whisk until incorporated.
  4. Brush a nonstick griddle or skillet with butter and heat over medium heat. Working in batches, spoon 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Gently press 3 plum slices into each pancake, lower the heat to medium-low and cook until golden brown on the bottom and the top is bubbling near the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve with the maple syrup.
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Plum-rific! Recipe

Plum Recipe


¼ lb butter                                                                                                                                                        2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup milk (or more)
2 ½ to 3 lb purple plums
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream together butter and sugar.  Mix well together the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla, and milk.  Grease a jelly roll pan and preheat oven to 375 F.  Spread dough on pan.  Halve, pit, and rinse plums.  Put plum halves on dough with cut side up and touching each other.  Sprinkle plums with sugar and cinnamon.  Dot each plum with a tiny piece of butter.  Sprinkle nuts over plums.  Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes.

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A Family Tradition-The Berrien County Youth Fair

I cannot even remember the first time I went to the local fair.  I know I was young, very young – holding on to my Mom and Dad’s hands.  Looking at so much. Trying to take it all in.  So many animals, exhibits, sites and sounds.  It was fantastic!  When I was really young I loved the animals.  As I got older it was the fair food and carnival rides.  My Dad loved to go by the farm equipment.  My Mom loved the commercial buildings where Amway, Watkins, and Avon had booths.  My Grandmother (Mom’s mom) loved to just look at all the animals and make comment on how well they were treated.

We only were able to go one evening during the week as it was hard to get away from the farm.  Usually a Friday or Saturday night after the last semi of tomatoes were loaded.  We always traveled with another farm family.  At least I had someone to ride the rides with.  As I got older and was able to drive I would enter “still” exhibits, like art work, sewing or baked goods.

Fast forward to when my husband and I were married.  His family were/are equipment dealers– at that time Massey Ferguson tractors.  They would set up at the fair.  And when the boys came along we would spend the entire week there. We would do the farm during the day (mostly green beans to harvest) and then later in the afternoon head to the fair.

When the boys turned 5 they were able to enter animals and exhibits.  Mathew, our oldest, started with meat chickens and then a year later meat chickens and pen of two hogs.  Then our son Marc, also did the same.  At that time we even brought our geese and ducks.  Even brought a small wading pool for them to swim in.  It was great fun for the boys.  It was very, very long days for 5 and 6 year olds.  They would have to be there early to feed, water and clean their animals: help clean the barn; show their animals; help others and somehow do it again the next day with the other animals they showed.  Then the big day was auction day.  Same chores but now to find a buyer and show the hogs and meat chickens again.

When Mary came along, the boys were around 9 and 10.  Same work and excitement as above, but then baby Mary had to be watched and pulled in a wagon all day long!  It was still fun as she remembers some of the accounts when the “brothers” were having fun or in trouble with mom.  And guess what, when she was 5 she started exhibiting.  There was no way holding her back!  The fair starts next week, August 11th and runs until the 16th.  We cannot wait!

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So Many Plums to Choose From

There are two major types of plums: European plums and Japanese plums.
The most common European plums (scientific name Prunus domestica L.) are elongated, blue types, but other colors are available as well. In the USA, European plums are eaten fresh, as fresh slices in salads and desserts, and processed as puree for baby food, baking, dried fruit, and fermented as alcoholic beverages, depending on the varieties. The trees are more upright in growth. Trimming is more extensive then the Japanese plums
Japanese plums (scientific name Prunus salicina Lindl. and hybrids) are primarily used as fresh market plums. Japanese plums range from round to heart shaped, and are a range of colors and tend to be larger than European plums. These trees generally grow more outward and have different requirements for trimming then the European plums.

European cultivars that we raise and approximate harvest dates:
 Vibrant – The first European plum to be harvested, the Vibrant is a beautiful plum with a violet-blue skin and amber flesh. It is a medium to large-sized fruit with good firmness and sweetness with a medium acid content for a nice balanced flavor.
 Vanette – The Vanette is a large, purple-blue, freestone plum. It has good sugar/acid ratio that accounts for excellent taste. . Most years ripens in the third week of August. It is very good dual – purpose plum and is one of the best fresh market plums. It is an excellent all-around plum. It’s great for cooking, canning and fresh eating.
 Castleton – The fruit of the Castleton is medium-sized, dark blue, oblong, and freestone. It has a sweet to mildly acidic taste. It is very good dual purpose plum; suitable for fresh and cooking/preserving. A known favorite when it comes to home canning, it makes an excellent burgundy jam. You can find them at the end of August to the first part of September.
 Stanley – The Stanley is the go-to for European plums. It is medium to large fruit with dark blue skin and yellow-green flesh. It can be identified by its distinct neck. It has a great taste.
 Long John – The fruit of the Long John is large and has an interesting shape: it is quite long and bit “flattened”. The skin is dark maroon, almost black, and covered with the waxy bloom, which gives it nice blue color. The flesh is orange, firm and pleasantly tart. It is freestone and it ripens with the Stanley at the first of September, but is larger and better quality.
 Empress – The Empress is a well-known European plum variety. It has large, elliptical, symmetrical fruit of very good quality. The skin is purple and covered with heavy waxy bloom. The flesh is greenish-yellow and it is semi-cling. The Empress is a very nice late-season choice.

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Enjoy Our Berries All Winter Long!

332715_10150284160973181_5063595_oFreezing fruit is a great way to save berries for winter use and can be a quick and painless process!! The easiest fruits to freeze are blueberries, red raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries. Sweet and Tart cherries are also great from the freezer but both do need to be pitted in advance. Peaches can also be frozen but are a bit more time consuming; however, think of all the benefits!

Blueberries, Raspberries (black and red), & Blackberries:
Simply wash and dry berries. Then lay berries out evenly on a cookie
sheet. Place cookie sheet in the freezer so that berries freeze
individually. (Doing this prevents berries from freezing together
so that accurate measurements can be removed easily from the 
freezer!)Keep in the freezer for about a half hour. Remove berries 
and bag them! 

Sweet Cherries and Tart Cherries: 
Start by pitting the cherries! Next wash and dry cherries. Place the 
cherries on a cookie sheet and put in freezer for a half hour. 
Remove from the freezer and bag!

Peaches need to be washed, peeled, sliced and pitted before freezing.
It is best to use ripe firm peaches. A good way to peel peaches is 
to either use a traditional potato peeler or dip peaches in boiling
water briefly so skin can easily slip off. After the peaches are 
peeled, slice peaches in 1/4 inch slices (thinner slices may be 
preferred). Dip slices in 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of lemon
juice to stop peaches from browning. Place peaches on cookie sheet 
and allow to freeze in the freezer for a half hour. Remove cookie 
sheet and bag up the peaches! Now you can enjoy sweet peaches all 
year long!! 

Frozen Fruit is the KEYWORD this week. Mention the KEYWORD at 
market and receive a $1 off your purchase!! 

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Drunken Cherries!!

36484_403538003180_5120271_nAs sweet cherries come to the end in the upcoming weeks, have you considered something for your winter enjoyment? How about Homemade Cherry Brandy using our delicious sweet cherries?!

This recipe requires firm sweet cherries and a bit of patience but it is well worth the wait!

You will need:

2 1/4 lbs of sweet cherries -- Not pitted
4 1/4 cups of your most preferred Vodka
1/2 - 3/4 cups of sugar depending on personal taste preference
Jars to store your beverage in! 

1. Rinse cherries well
2. Layer the cherries with sugar
3. Pour over the alcohol and close the jar
4. Put in a dark place at room temperature and shake every day
for a week.
5. (Here's where the patience comes in) Forget about the cherries
until Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah! 

Cherries is the KEYWORD this week! Mention our KEYWORD at market 
and receive a $1 off your purchase!
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The Buzz on Honey: Episode 1

We are coming to the end of our fall honey! Our fall honey that is usually lighter in color is on its way out due to the tremendous amount of rain we have had on the farm. We did not gather honey during this time as we like to let the bees use their honey for their own nutrition during these rainy times since they cannot get out an forage. But don’t you fret! With 32 hives of bees we will still have plenty of honey! What to expect for the upcoming weeks: A darker honey with a more hardy flavor. This flavor is from the spring and early summer flowers!

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