Updated: Dec 31, 2020
The TEXAS HEAT is here to stay which means one thing... it's WATERMELON season! Watermelons are produced throughout the LONE STAR STATE and are its largest annual horticultural crop. A juicy, ripe, #watermelon is FANTASTIC on its own, but it can also be used to make an easy, healthy, #homemade treat. Any fruit leather is a HUGE hit at our house and it's surprisingly EASY to make. This recipe features straight-from-the-farm TEXAS WATERMELON locally sourced from Sorrells Farms in Comanche, TX.
I believe in real ingredients, real moments, and real food, so everything I make at b. marie bakery is made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients straight from the FARM whenever possible. Regardless if you prefer traditional or something with an extra TWIST, this recipe is the perfect combination of FRUITY, SWEET, & REFRESHING. Not to mention, this classic treat is ideal for any SUMMER day hanging by the pool or cruising out on the lake.
On a recent visit to Comanche I caught up with Kinley Sorrells, founder and owner of Sorrells Farms. Kinley is originally from Mason, TX but has called Comanche home since 1977. Kinley, like most farmers, is extremely humble, hard working, and attributes any successes to his faith in GOD. Kinley serves as a deacon at East Side Baptist Church in addition to serving on the Ag Texas Board of Directors and being a member of the Texas Pecan Growers Association. He also has a heart for education. Kinley and his wife Delinda both graduated from Tarleton State University, TSU. #GoTexans While attending TSU Kinley obtained a B.S. in Agricultural Education and a M.S. in Plant & Soil Science. To this day he is very involved in various educational opportunities and frequents as a guest lecturer. In fact, we shared stories of our recent Zoom lectures and he even took the time to teach me about grafting pecans. Grafting allows the farmer to have a higher producing variety without the wait. It is a common propagation technique heavily utilized in the pecan industry. I was very excited to learn from one of the BEST and plan to incorporate a grafting lecture in my own Agronomy and Horticulture courses in the coming semesters.
I have always known the Sorrells family, but it wasn't until my adult life that I fully understood how VITAL people, like the Sorrells family, are to my #HOMETOWN. To learn more about the story behind Sorrells Farms keep reading for the inside perspective of life on the farm.
WHY DO YOU FARM?
"It's all a God thing. It's all because of him. It takes hard work, there is no doubt about that. However, to be a farmer or a rancher you have to have faith in the Lord." - Kinley Sorrells
Sorrells Farms was established in 1977 when Kinley and Delinda decided to call Comanche home. The original farm started when Kinley had the opportunity to purchase a pecan orchard that he previously managed and has since expanded into produce.
"My biggest reward is being able to work with my family and creating a legacy that lives on through my children and grandchildren." - Kinley Sorrells
Sorrells Farms is a true family owned and operated business. Delinda manages the retail store and the store's garden center located at 409 E. Central in Comanche, TX. If you haven't been, I highly recommend checking it out. They have an amazing selection of unique gifts, clothes, local food products, and a garden center.
Gayland, Kinley and Delinda's son, and his wife Tami are part of the operation as well. Gayland graduated from TSU and soon joined his family legacy. He manages daily operations alongside his father and Tami helps with cost analysis, productivity, regulations, marketing, and packaging of products.
"I enjoy seeing the stages of a crop from start to finish. I appreciate taking care of the land and providing for my family." - Gayland Sorrells
Sorrells Farms is unique in that they are a very diversified operation which provides the ability to maintain employees year round. Farming comes at a cost and isn't without it's challenges.
"Our biggest challenges are the weather and pests such as feral hogs and deer." - Kinley Sorrells
As shown in the picture above, farmers are not only at the mercy of the weather, but also the various animals that eat their crops.
Sorrells Farms is a major producer of pecans, watermelons, peaches, and various vegetable produce. You can purchase products directly from the farm at the retail store or from various grocery stores.
"It’s pretty amazing to trust in the Lord to provide for your family and faithfully know He will supply our needs. It makes us smile to know consumers are pleased and appreciate the products we grow." - Tami Sorrells
FARMING DURING A PANDEMIC
Farming during any season is a challenge that isn't suitable for everyone, but farming amid a pandemic has its own unique obstacles.
"The pandemic has changed the way we operate at the store and farm. At the retail store we limit the number of customers both inside the store and outside in the garden center. The farm has implemented new regulations with recommendations from the USDA. In addition, our farm conducts an annual GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) audit each year to ensure product and consumer safety." - Tami Sorrells
Kinley is using this unique time as an opportunity to spend more time with his grandchildren and educate them on the various aspects of production and daily farm operations.
"This has given me the opportunity to work with my grandchildren during a period they normally wouldn't see. They now have the opportunity to see exactly what it takes to get to the point where you harvest." - Kinley Sorrells
Despite what you see on the news or social media, we live in a country with the safest and most affordable food supply in the world. Educate yourself regarding common farming practices and why they're used. The easiest thing you can do is talk to your local farmers.
"If the consumer really understood everything that is involved on a daily basis to give them the best product they would look at farmers and ranchers in a very different light." - Kinley Sorrells
When you buy local you're not only helping support your local economy but you're supporting your friends and community.
THANK A FARMER
During times of uncertainty take comfort knowing it's everyday people in RURAL AMERICA working around the clock who provide the most affordable and safest food supply. They are the unsung HEROES who we often take for granted. Now more than ever, be grateful and thank the hardworking farmers, ranchers, and everyone in-between for ALWAYS providing. They have ALWAYS been there...and they ALWAYS will.
As you enjoy your family dinner from the comfort of your home, take time to reflect on how that food made it to your plate. Or how it made its way from FARM to BAKED. #farmtotable #stillfarming #thankafarmer #recipe #watermelon
Until next time, check out the recipe for Watermelon Fruit Leather below. Enjoy!
WATERMELON FRUIT LEATHER
RECIPE COURTESY OF B. MARIE BAKERY
1 red or orange seedless watermelon (9 c)
1/4 c sugar (as needed)
Preheat oven to 170 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the watermelon in half. Use a cookie scoop to remove watermelon from the rind and place it in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Place a sieve over a large bowl. Line the sieve with cheese cloth and remove the excess water from the watermelon until only the pulp is left. ***You can use any scrap fabric if you don't have cheese cloth on hand.***
Remove the watermelon from the cheese cloth and place in a medium sized bowl. Add the zest and juice of one lemon. Add sugar to taste.
Spread the mixture over the parchment paper using an offset spatula.
Bake for ~3 hours or until the fruit leather slightly tacky.
Remove from oven and let cool completely. Cut into stripes and ENJOY!