Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sometimes you speak rashly and end up with 5 pounds of sour cherries

In yesterday's comments, I mused that we would have to prune the top half of our remaining cherry tree if we ever expected to harvest the majority of the cherries. A little Internet research revealed that our poor cherry was never properly pruned, and that in addition to making most of the cherries inaccessible, the tall middle stem of the tree was considered unhealthy for a cherry (don't ask me why, I don't remember).

Anyway, Mulch Boy came home last night, and after making his own comment about Mr. Fantastic picking our cherries (we share a brain), offered to prune the tree right there and then.

Dilemma! All the pruning advice said that late winter or spring is the time to prune. Not that folks don't do it at other times, but winter or spring is more ideal. Pruning at this time apparently causes the tree to use a lot of its energy to put forth new growth that may not actually be desirable, and that you'll spend the summer, well, pruning. Mulch Boy and I spent the next five minutes debating the merits of pruning now versus pruning later. The hard-hitting discussion went something like this:

PQ: "What do you think?"
MB:  "I don't know, what do you think?"
PQ: "Should we do it now?"
MB: "If you want me to, I'll do it now."
PQ: "I don't know, what do you think?"

The result of this intense debate: let's prune it now. Or more accurately, seven minutes from now when the cornbread comes out of the oven. (Yes, more cornbread. This time I cut the kernels of a leftover ear of corn and mixed that in. Oh boy!)

Out came the hand saw, and the next thing we knew, seemingly (probably) half the cherry tree was on the ground. I hope we did the right thing. In any case, the pickins' was pretty easy then. And that how we ended up with five pounds of sour cherries.


Now what?
Five pounds.
  
Sandy Queen of Ants keeps her minions at bay, sometimes.
Cherries shown next to cornbread and Sandy Queen of Ants for scale.

After the momentary euphoria ("We picked all the cherries!") came cold, cold reality. We have five pounds of sour cherries. Now what?

Whatever we do, it needs to happen fast before these ruby beauties deteriorate. Thanks to cookbooks and the Internet, I have a tentative scheme. Several sources say you can freeze cherries very easily just by washing them, pitting them, and then spreading them on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they're solid and packing them in freezer bags. I like that, and I'm gonna try that for some.

I also found several recipes for sour cherry jam. It appears I may be dragged into canning even a little faster than I was anticipating, and I was anticipating my maiden voyage in canning this Saturday with farmers' market strawberries. This would be even better, as it wouldn't entail spending piles of cash on local strawberries (although I'm not counting that out yet). Perhaps sour cherry jam will be the initial trial that helps me make the go/no-go decision on the strawberries.

Finally, I feel like I need to bake at least one thing with these guys, whether it's a pie or cobbler or cake. I'm leaning toward cobbler because it's easy, although pie isn't much of a challenge if you use those delightful refrigerated lard crusts that Pillsbury and every supermarket keep in their dairy section.

Whatever I choose, though, I've got to choose NOW. Those cherries are too fra-gee-lay to last long, and I do not want to see them go to waste like every other year we've picked them. Not. This. Time.

Thus, I beg you to share any good sour cherry recipes you may have up your sleeve--quickly. The Potato Queen needs your help!

5 comments:

  1. You can freeze them in freezer bags in pie/cobbler-sized amounts. Reports (pleas don't ask for citations) say fruit freezes better with added sugar. So wash and pit some cherries, take an amount that would go into a pie/cobbler, add the amount of sugar your recipe specifies, mix it together and put it in a freezer bag. Get all the air out, seal, label (make sure the label says how much of what is in there), and freeze. (Do this for 12 bags worth, and you can have a pie per month!) Later, when you want a cherry pie, some of the work is already done: you just have to cook it up with cornstarch or whatever and put in a pie shell to bake.

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  2. My mother used to make sour cherry jam when I was young. I was scared of it and never even tried it (I only ate her strawberry jam - what was I thinking?), but everyone else liked it. I'm sorry I don't have the recipe.

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  3. New post coming describing my adventure in jam making and cherry freezing!

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  4. Sa-a-a-a-ay, I like your thinking, Ray!

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