Fethiye in Season: Celebrating cherries and the upcoming Nif Cherry Festival
Few can resist big, fat, tasty cherries and last week’s Fethiye Tuesday market was just full of them. It’s great to see the stalls heaped high, selling these juicy little gems for as little as 5TL per kilo (a little over £1). Better still, to celebrate the harvest, the nearby mountain village of Nif (also known as Arpacik), is holding a festival in their honour on June 27th.
Nif – Arpacik Cherry Festival to be held June 27th 2015
The idyllic mountain village of Nif, a short drive inland from Fethiye, has been famed for its cherry harvest for many years. Nif is a picturesque and traditional little place tucked in-between the mountains and pine forests, with clear running mountain streams and an abundance of cherry, fruit and walnut groves. At 900 feet above sea level, Nif’s altitude assures the village benefits from temperatures on average 10 degrees lower than those in Fethiye and on the coast making it ideal for growing cherries. Although the cherry season is short, lasting only a few weeks, the villagers are proud of their harvest. They organise the cherry festival each year around the last weekend in June. The festival is an evening event. It starts around 7pm with home cooked food on offer, traditional folk music and dance, and let’s not forget, an awful lot of cherries! it’s a great opportunity for foreigners to get an insight into true village life and celebrations so pop along if you get a chance (and love cherries of course!).
Health Benefits of Cherries
Cherries are remarkably good for you. A low calorie fruit so you needn’t worry about the waistline, they are packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Some of the most notable health benefits;
- As pigment rich fruits, cherries contain anthocyanin glycosides (the red/blue/purple colour found naturally in their skin and flesh). These are renowned for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are said to help relieve the pain from arthritis, gout and other painful muscle conditions.
- Cherries are rich in the anti-oxidant melatonin that studies have proved can have calming effects on the neurons in the brain. Eating cherries can help calm irritability, relax those with insomnia and ease a stubborn headache.
- Tart cherries are said to help the body fight against aging, cancer and diabetes. They are packed with flavonoid poly phenolic anti-oxidants like lutein and beta carotene helping your body free itself from harmful free radicals.
Recipe of the Week : Turkish Lamb Kofte with Cherries, Yogurt and Flat Bread (Servings:6)
1 kg Lamb mince
3 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground cloves
4 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Large onion, finely diced
350g pitted fresh cherries
100g dried cranberries, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes then drained
Juice of ½ lemon
150ml lamb/chicken stock
Handful of fresh mint, parsley or coriander
200ml Thick natural yogurt
4 tbsp Milk
3 tbsp Tahini
Flatbread and salad, to serve
- Pop the lamb mince and all the spices apart from the cinnamon, in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands until it is blended. Form into patties around an inch in size and put to one side.
- Heat the oil and fry the kofte in a large pan until browned on all sides (this may have to be done in batches). Dry on kitchen towelling and drain all but a little of the oil from your pan.
- Brown the onions in the pan, over a medium heat, until soft. Add around 250g of the cherries, the cranberries and the cinnamon and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the lemon juice.
- Add the meatballs back to the pan and add the stock. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the remaining cherries, heat through.
- In a bowl, mix the milk, yogurt and tahini. Drizzle over the cherry kofte mixture and garnish with chopped mint/coriander. Serve with flat bread and fresh green salad. Afiyet olsun!
(Recipe and image adapted from nutmegseven.co.uk)
To find out the Fethiye market days please see last weeks Fethiye in Season post Celebrating what’s in Season around Fethiye
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