Eckert's Farms' Angie Eckert on milestones, Mom Nature, and a pristine cookbook - St. Louis Brochure

For 8 generations, the Eckert society has been a fixture within the St. Louis region’s agriculture range, first as subsistence farmers for their very own society and in the end as a supply of unutilized retail build and pick-your-own reports that attach the branch society to its native meals machine. It’s a legacy that Angie Eckert takes significantly. 

“There were many generations of being hooked in to farming and in need of to be excellent stewards of the land,” says Eckert. “That's the core trust that lighting fixtures our society up, and we adore having the ability to percentage our hobby for a way agriculture happens in an area environment and exposing households to meals, so they may be able to see the place it comes from and choose it off the plant or tree firsthand. This is the place our hobby lies: within the enjoy of meals.”

With pick-your-own season in complete swing, the farm’s first-annual Cider Daze birthday celebration arising in June, and a a success cookbook founding at the back of her, Eckert shared what it’s love to be part of this type of storied piece of the St. Louis region’s meals society and why she believes her family’s paintings resonates so deeply with population.

This moment is the sixtieth annualannually of pick-your-own apples at Eckert's, which introduced this cherished a part of your corporation. How did that come about, and the way has it grown over time? My husband, his two sisters, and myself are regarded as a part of the 7th age within the trade, and we in truth have two contributors of the 8th age, my niece and nephew, additionally now operating full-time in it. The very early generations have been rising extra for sustenance; we credit score Alvin Eckert with serving to the society delve into the retail market in 1910. Alvin is the place the fervour for retail in point of fact began, and we attempted it with many various kinds of agriculture; we raised chickens, had a slaughterhouse, and attempted rising with reference to the whole lot you'll develop over time to peer what population reply to. Ultimate moment, we celebrated 60 years of pick-your-own apples, which began at our Grafton, [Illinois] farm. I’m now not positive how we made up our minds to attempt it, however it become an overly vital a part of our trade, and we expanded that at our alternative places over time. There were some adjustments within the trade that experience made it extra obtainable and in point of fact start out. That spark of an concept in point of fact allowed that form of enjoy to be to be had for numerous build.

What's a normal pick-your-own season like? Now, we’re winding ailing strawberry season, which began in overdue April this moment; generally it’s the second one moment of Would possibly, however it used to be early this moment as a result of we had some of the warmest Aprils and the wettest Mays. After, there's a little hole, and we advance to dull raspberries, which can be very fleeting; we generally get just one moment with that, and next it’s blackberry season, which generally lasts six to 8 weeks. They're all thornless, so they're tremendous simple to pick out, and we have now this cool trellising machine for that, so it guarantees that the entire ripe berries are on one facet, so it’s a very easy enjoy. Select-your-own-peaches are early July to mid-August; apples start in early August and move in the course of the finish of October. Pumpkins are the top of September to Halloween, and next there’s a three-week gap and we move to cut-your-own tree.

Obviously, you're reasonably beholden to Mom Nature. How crisp is it to rely such a lot on one thing you in the end can't keep an eye on? We shaggy dog story round that no person within the Eckert society loves to gamble as a result of we do it each and every month with Mom Nature. It’s one thing you in point of fact need to get your head round. You'll put your absolute best attempt available in the market, however on the finish of the month, Mom Nature has the general say in what it produces and in how it comes out. We’re at her forgiveness, and also you do shoot it for my part first of all, however I’m getting higher at it. It's important to notice that that is essentially the most herbal factor; you can’t forbid it from going down, so it's important to paintings with it and embody alternatives. The scariest section for me is within the iciness; when that has effects on the peach vegetation there isn’t a lot compensating for that, so it's important to roll with the punches and manufacture the most efficient of what has been given to you. Now and again it's important to remind your self it wasn’t a twister that burnt up the entire reduce. While you oversee issues develop, you notice that they're dynamic and are by no means going to accomplish precisely the similar manner. Era has in point of fact helped simplify some purposes at the farming facet, as a result of we're ready to trace climate information and that may be correlated to knowledge that tells us the dangers of bugs of defect. Presently, we’re coping with cicada harm and are looking to mitigate that. Those gear a minimum of aid let you know of pressures that could be happening in nature.

Something you can keep an eye on is what comes from your kitchen. Let us know concerning the fresh version of the Eckert’s: Our Favorites, Spring & Summer Recipes cookbook, which used to be lately printed. That is the 9th version of the cookbook; the primary got here out in 1960 or '61 and used to be assemble via my husband’s grandma and aunt. It’s humorous to seem again at it and spot elements that population don’t in point of fact significance anymore. It’s a amusing and funky roughly evolution of our society foods, as a result of those are the foods that our society makes for birthdays, vacations, and particular events. You in point of fact can see how the Eckert society dinner desk developed thru our cookbooks. The one who we simply absolved used to be performed with a quantity of pictures, and it’s extra like a 'zine as a result of we would have liked it to be one thing you'll choose up inexpensively. The recipes have been pulled from earlier spring and summer time cookbooks; my sisters-in-law, Jill and Sarah, and I went thru and highlighted all of our non-public favorites and tallied them up. It used to be amusing to peer that all of us manufacture lots of the identical ones.

What do you assume makes this cookbook so particular? The recipes aren’t difficult. Those aren’t complicated or for cooks making issues from scratch. Those are for the on a regular basis, busy one that needs to have unutilized meals and style the flavors of the fruit and build with out issues hiding the unutilized flavors. If it’s a recipe for one thing with peaches, you'll style peach as the flavour. They're fruit-forward and will also be assembled simply if you're operating, year is aggravating, and also you don't have moment to spend hours making each and every dinner. Some other differentiating issue is that it comprises cocktails, a number of of which can be made with our crisp cider. We began to build it and opened the Cider Let fall two years in the past, and we additionally paintings with Brick River Cider, which makes some in keeping with our recipes.The good factor about it—and one thing population could be occupied with knowing—is that once households and faculty teams pop out to pick out apples, a quantity fall at the garden. We will't promote the ones in the course of the collect, however we're ready to ferment them and switch them into crisp cider. It’s given us a option to make the most of our vegetation extra successfully and is a neat, sustainable factor for us.

Any favorites within the cookbook? In fact the blackberry peach sun-baked, as a result of it’s scrumptious and encapsulates Eckert’s in the summertime. (See recipe under.) Additionally, I in point of fact love the orzo salad with tomatoes. It has such a lot of unutilized flavors and a pleasant dressing that may be your go-to potluck recipe. Some other one I’ve been making in recent times is that this candy strawberry bruschetta with goat cheese. I'm a obese fan of fruit now not being only for cakes. We even have this strawberry salsa, which is every other instance of that. It’s our purpose to problem population to significance build in numerous ways in which they haven’t attempted within the presen.

Recipe: Eckert’s Blackberry Peach Crispy

When Angie Eckert and her sisters-in-law have been placing in combination the newest model in their cookbook, Eckert’s: Our Favorites. Spring & Summer Recipes, all of them got here to the similar realization: Peaches needed to be at the shield. “We do assume that recipe is scrumptious, however also it in point of fact encapsulates Eckert’s in the summertime,” says Eckert. “Peaches and blackberries are the most important portions of our summer time; population simply laborer Eckert’s with peaches.” Eckert notes that she and her co-authors have been intentional in making the recipes within the cookbook, together with this one, approachable for on a regular basis chefs with busy schedules. Her want is that you are going to to find this recipe simple to observe, scrumptious, and as a lot of a supply of pleasure as it's for her society. 


  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 2 lbs. (6 cups) peeled and sliced ripe peaches
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp unutilized lemon juice
  • 1 cup fast cooking oats
  • ¾ cup all function flour
  • ¾ cup luminous brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. garden cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. garden nutmeg
  • 1 stick + 1 Tbs. chilly, unsalted butter, cubed


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 levels Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a massive bowl, gently toss the blackberries, peaches, granulated sugar and lemon juice. Pour into an 8-by-11-inch glass baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the oats with the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
  4. The usage of your arms, combine the butter till the topping is crumbly.
  5. Sprinkle topping over the fruit, and bake for 50–60 mins or till the topping is yellowish brown. 
  6. Extra half-hour prior to serving. 

Makes 8 servings

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