Call them what you will. Pie cherries, tart cherries, sour. We call them good eating, but you never find them fresh in supermarkets around Kansas City.
Sweet cherries, yes. Tart cherries, hardly ever even at the farmers market.
I never understood why until hearing this story on NPR’s All Things Considered the other day. Apparently, tart cherries don’t travel well. They’re very perishable. And since Michigan is about the closest source of commercially grown tart cherries, we here in the Kansas City area are stuck with frozen cherry filling, juice and dried cherries.
That is,unless you happen to have access to a cherry tree. We have one right outside our back door. It was one of the first things we planted when we moved into our current home almost 15 years ago and started setting up our (fruit) and vegetable paradise.
I can’t recall when we got our first harvest off of it. A couple of years later, I suppose. Steadily the tree and its output grew. Nowadays, I’m amazed at how many cherries one tree can produce. In a few weeks, I’ll be spending many hours on a step ladder picking buckets of them.
Then Roxie and I will share duty pitting them by hand. She does most of it, but I have been known to pitch in, such as one marathon pitting session a few years ago when we were about to go on a trip and the cherries had to be dealt with or else.
Tedious, yes, but the work is well worth it. In addition to baking cherry pies, Rox will make jam and dry them in our dehydrator for sprinkling on cereal and ice cream.
Three years ago we tried our hand at making cherry wine. We used too much sugar and it ended up being a sweet desert wine that was just Ok. Since then, however, we’ve gotten better at it. Last year’s vintage wine was dry and fit for serving with the main course.
Buoyed by our success in making cherry wine, we experimented with other fruits. So now there’s apple and peach wine, too, in our cellar.
If you listen to the NPR story, you’ll be depressed to learn that the tart cherry industry is now marketing their product as a health food. Eat cherries and live better, longer, etc.
Phooey. Food isn’t medicine. Some of It may have medicinal properties, or simply be good for you, but food is meant to be enjoyed.
Anyone who says differently is itching for a fight.
Posted by: Mike
We’ll have cherry pie;Cherry pies,