I’m not sure what’s worse. Getting information that’s wrong, or getting information too late.
A few weeks ago when I went strawberry picking I asked the orchard when Michigan tart cherries would be in. They told me not until mid-July. I also asked them how the crop looked. They told me it looked pretty good.
Yesterday I got an email from the orchard, thank goodness I’m on their email list, announcing that Michigan cherries had been hit very hard by the harsh winter. Because of this, there would be no sweet cherries this year and tart cherry season would open today. Further, they stated that tart cherries would be open for only a few days.
So much for any plans I had today. Immediately upon reading the email, I told the kids we were getting up early, heading out to the orchard and picking what we could. My goal was 30 pounds but the way they made it sound, I’d be lucky to get enough for a pie!
With bad news, there is always something good though. When we reached the orchard this morning I asked if they still were picking rhubarb. Yes! No matter what then, I knew this wasn’t going to be a wasted trip.
We hit the rhubarb field first and picked about 20 pounds of what was left. It was not as easy picking as it had been just a few weeks ago, but the stalks were red and firm, so I can’t complain. Now I can make all those other recipes with rhubarb that I never got to because I hadn’t bought enough. This will be frozen however, so I can concentrate on the cherries.
Arriving at the cherry trees, I was surprised to find the trees as full as they were. The cherries were bigger than they had been last year, but not as clustered. It took the three of us nearly three hours to pick 26 pounds. A bit shy of my goal, but beggars can’t be choosy.
As for sweet cherries? A local super market had these on sale this week for $1.98 a pound. We stopped off on our way home from the orchard and bought 11 pounds. I don’t need to make sweet cherry jam or jelly this year, but there are some new recipes using sweet cherries that I’d like to try.
With so much fresh fruit to deal with, I got started the minute I got home stemming and pitting cherries. With seven pounds of tart cherries I canned cherry pie filling. I plan on making at least another batch, perhaps two, depending on how far the 26 pounds we picked goes.
Cherry Pie Filling
7 Pounds Fresh Sour Cherries
3 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4+ Water
4 Cups Cherry Water (see note)
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
Rinse and pit cherries.
Blanch cherries in boiling water for one minute.
Drain, reserving juice, and keep heated in covered stock pot.
Combine Clear Jel slurry, lemon juice and sugar in stock with 4 cups of the reserved juice from the blanching. Bring to boil over medium-high heat until it thickens and bubbles. Fold in drained cherries.
For this recipe the yield was 7 pints and one quart.
Although the information I received about Michigan cherries a few weeks ago was wrong, at least I didn’t miss cherry picking entirely like I would have had I not received that email. Fresh tart cherries for pies, tarts, turnovers, pastries, and Belgium waffles, for this I am — Simply Grateful.