INTERVIEW WITH ANNETTE ARCEO
Q: How did you get your start with Arceo Ranch?
My husband Robert and I both came from farming families. I grew up the daughter of an asparagus and grain farmer, and Robert’s father introduced him to all the practices of being a skilled orchardist from an early age. In 1998, after many years of farming for another company, the desire to own our own orchard finally became a reality. We have diversified from cherries and pears to include some stone fruit and avocados.
Q. What do you love most about your work?
The love of farming runs deep. It’s like a fever that comes with its highs and lows. When spring approaches and the blossoms and buds are forming on the trees, that renewed hope of a “good year” plants itself in your mindset. Weather permitting, nurturing the smallest of fruit into a beautiful harvest is extremely rewarding, and bringing it to the Napa Farmers Market is the highlight of each harvest. We can become embedded in the grueling task of picking fruit for many hours a day in sometimes inhospitable weather. Yet, seeing boxes of large, luminescent cherries packed and ready for the next market swells our hearts with pride. The pride that we did an excellent job and satisfaction that we can deliver our product to customers who are so appreciative of good fruit. It’s the final product from our market table to yours that reminds us why we love doing what we do.
Q. How does the Napa Farmers Market support your farm/business?
Napa Farmers Market has been a lifeline for us. Without it, we would not be able to farm. By eliminating our overhead costs of growing, harvesting, packing, and shipping a product to the grocery store, we can do most of the work ourselves, with occasional help, and bring our fruit directly to the consumer.
In this manner, we have learned how to expand and diversify our fruit to best suit the customer needs and bring the best product possible. The ability to bring our fruit directly to you has cut unnecessary costs and handling, leaving us a bigger profit to continue doing what we love.
Q. How many varieties of cherries do you grow, and what is unique about each variety?
We grow 12 different varieties of cherries. Not all are considered market worthy, so we bring only those with distinct flavor qualities and texture. Our highlights are Coral Champagne, a beautiful cherry with an undeniable sweetness that kicks off the season. Black Pearl has become a market favorite with its crispy texture and intense classic black cherry flavor. We typically come on later with our Rainiers as we wait for them to size and develop sweetness in their cheerful yellow and red jackets. We round out the season with our large, dark and juicy Bentons and Lapins. We gear up for pear season after our last variety of cherries is harvested.
Q. What’s your go-to recipe this time of year?
My go-to cherry recipe is a Cherry Almond Streusel Coffee Cake. This recipe works particularly well with the firmness of Black Pearl Cherries but is well suited to any of our varieties.
CHERRY ALMOND STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE
Recipe courtesy of Barbara Bakes: https://www.barbarabakes.com/cherry-almond-streusel-coffee-cake/
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup whole milk
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and quartered (like Black Pearl)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray and coat with flour.
In a small bowl, prepare the crumb topping. Combine sugar, flour, and butter. Mix until crumbly. Stir in sliced almonds and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and milk. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in cherries. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan, and sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan. Prepare icing by whisking together powdered sugar and lemon juice to create a thin glaze. Drizzle over the cake.
Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.