Today was tart pie cherry picking day! My DFIL has one tart cherry tree in his front yard and last week I noticed that the cherries were starting to ripen. Usually the picking is a job thatDS and I do–though not one he likes very much. The cherries are sticky and today we also dealt with higher than normal humidity. Our humidity is usually in the single digits, however today it is 39% which feels sticky, sticky, sticky! We are used to a very dry climate, though DH and I have lived in Texas where heat and humidity coexist.
Anyway, back to the cherries! Yesterday I received a text from DFIL letting me know that the cherries were ready to pick if I wanted to get to them before the birds did. Since he and my SIL don’t pick and prepare the cherries for canning, freezing, or any other kind of cooking, I was glad to get my hands on them. I couldn’t bear to have them go to waste and DFIL knows that is usually my mentality. A quick text went winging back to him through cyberspace to let him know that after I took DD to work today, DS and I would come over and pick cherries.
DS was predictably less than charmed with the prospect of picking cherries. They are sticky and messy–two things he can’t abide. Out came the latex-free gloves to make that part a wee bit more bearable, along with two large mixing bowls to fill. We had barely started picking when DS came over to show me two bugs in his bowl with a couple of handfuls of cherries.
“Do you see these bugs? If I find very many more of these I’m not going to pick any more. I don’t want them, whatever kind they are, at our place (across the street),” DS said. I checked them out and fished them out of his bowl. They were attached head to tail in a line and all I wanted to know was if they were earwigs (not, thankfully) or elder bugs. DFIL had an elder bug infestation a few years back and DS had been tasked with helping to spray them with soapy water. He wasn’t interested in adding that task to his chores again. So, I explained that these weren’t either of those and we weren’t taking the bugs across the street because I had put them on the ground and smashed them.
Picking began in earnest as it was getting warm. We both knew the temperature was supposed to reach 96° today and didn’t really want to be outside at that point. If the humidity had been in the single digits, we might have been more inclined to be outside in the heat. After filling each bowl about 1/3 full, my phone rang. I had been waiting on a phone call and had to answer questions and continue to pick cherries with one hand. By the end of the phone call, we had both filled our bowls about 3/4 full and were starting to sweat in earnest.
Heading back inside, I dumped the cherries into the sink and gave them a good wash. Thankfully, DFIL doesn’t use any sprays, and I didn’t pick cherries that the birds had “blessed”. I had about 1 1/2 hours before lunch to pit all of those cherries and freeze them in empty containers. My cherry pitter allows me to pit one cherry at a time, so I got busy. Unfortunately, I didn’t get quite all of the cherries pitted and into containers before lunch, however it wasn’t that long after either. That batch amounted to seven quarts that were quickly put into the chest freezer.
I told DS that we would have to finish picking the rest of the cherries after supper tonight but we would ask DH to help. When DH came home from work, I asked him if he would help me pick the rest after supper. Wonderful man that he is, he helped pick them even though DS chose not to help. We cleaned the tree pretty good up to a height that was not really reachable with ease. There were not that many eaten by the birds this year which was nice. DH carried the large bowl back home and we dumped it into the sink to wash and prepare for pitting and packaging.
A couple of hours later, another seven quarts of cherries were pitted. Two quarts were kept out for making cherry cobbler for the upcoming weekend, and the rest were put into containers and quart baggies. After labeling, these containers were added to those in the freezer.
My recipe book was pulled out and I began adding sugar, corn starch, almond extract, and cinnamon to the two quarts of cherries. The fire was turned low and I began to stir. As the cherries cooked, they really began to smell good. After boiling for a bit and thickening up, I turned the stove off and left them to cool. I am hoping that by the time I go to bed, they will be cool enough to put in the refrigerator. On Friday, I will make them into cobbler and hopefully remember to take pictures. DH suggested that we get plain vanilla ice cream to serve with it this Saturday night when DFIL, SIL, and our niece come over for supper. That should be doable since I am going to the grocery store this Friday. Stay tuned for possible pictures of the cobbler!