Saturday, August 20, 2011

life's a bowl

I'm surrounded by cherries.

They really are the world's most elegant fruit, those perfect ripe orbs, each dangling from a slender stylish stem. And yet, like the Hollywood legend who arrives home from the red carpet, sheds her Vera Wang and pulls on her Dorrito-stained sweat pants, the cherry transitions easily from luscious perfection lowered sensuously to waiting lips into a red-stained pit spat triumphantly across the back yard in a few juicy chomps.

Cherry production is big business. Like BIG. The Spousal Unit likes to tell the story of a business trip he made to a cherry orchard in the Okanagan a couple of years ago. This was no ma and pa orchard with some stunted apple trees and a few rows of cherry trees, chickens meandering through the grounds, cats lazing on fences. This place had helicopters.

The Spousal Unit and his companions were scheduled to take a helicopter tour of the area on the day that they were there, but it had rained the night before. All the helicopters had therefore been commandeered to hover above the orchard, fanning the trees with their blades to dry off the cherries in order to prevent them from bursting. The warehouse only operated for a few weeks each year, employed dozens of people, and generated some serious income. The largest, most perfect cherries never even get sold in Canada. Cherries are way more profitable than drug running evidently.

With my family stemming from the Black Forest region of Germany, I admit to having some cherry juice running through my veins. Which is why I found myself lugging twenty pounds of Okanagan cherries home from the farmers' market a couple of days ago. I really didn't want to delve into the whole canning process - been there, done that. A little research convinced me that freezing batches of cherries was the simplest way to deal with this over-abundance of goodness, but I was a little terrified of the pitting process. I had visions of myself cowering in the corner of a juice-splattered kitchen, in a scene from a torture-porn movie, rocking back and forth cradling my red-dripping hands, now crippled and useless. Much as I dislike kitchen gadgets that serve only one purpose, I figured it was time to invest in a cherry pitter.

Cherry pitters are actually not very expensive. With the money in my pocket from taking the house concert empties to the bottle depot, I was able to buy a very nice one at a kitchen supply store and still have enough left over for a cheap bottle of wine.

I love my cherry pitter! Cherry pitting is actually fast and easy, and considerably less messy than I expected.

In addition to freezing pitted cherries, I decided to try macerating a few jars of them. I gathered up all the little sample booze bottles and fishing trip leftovers that had accumulated in the liquor cabinet, and poured them into jars packed with only perfect blemish-free cherries, pits and stems intact. They look gorgeous, although I am told that the alcohol will eventually leach the colour from the cherries, so we will need to eat them within a few weeks. Shouldn't be a problem.

I have about ten pounds of cherries left to pit today, and tomorrow I plan to bake some cherry muffins, putting a lie to my assertion that I only ever bake muffins when we have overnight guests. Unless you want to come for a visit...

What would you do with twenty pounds of cherries?

13 comments:

27thstreet said...

I like cherries a lot, but after 20 lbs of them, I just might be ready for another food group.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm trying not to eat all 20 lbs at one sitting, Mr Anchovy, but I am going through them at an alarming rate.

Karen said...

20 lbs?! Sweet bejeebus that's a lot of cherries! Hmmm, alcohol soaked fruit = Manna from heaven. Slop some over a shortcake and top with some fresh whipped cream and I'll be your new BFF!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I'd make cherry jam out of those babies.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are on, Karen! What time can you get here, bestie?

I'm not much of a jam eater, but I bet that would be delicious, Dr M, and a gorgeous colour.

kelly said...

bake a bunch of cherry turnovers and send them to kelly?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That's a great idea, Kelly! Or ... and here's another suggestion - bake a batch of cherry turnovers and make Kelly come for a visit in order to eat them.

leazwell said...

We've been eating cherries by the cupfuls and peaches. I think the heat this summer naturally drove us to consume more fruit than normal.

kelly said...

yes that would work too

John Mutford said...

What an educational post. Helicopters. Can't say I knew that. Can't say I'd know what to do with 20 lbs either.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

We have not had your summer of heat, Leazwell, but I cannot get enough fresh seasonal produce after a winter of wrinkled fruit.

I thought it might, Kelly.

I was astounded by the helicopter aspect too, John. You'd think those cherries were made of gold.

Remi said...

I was never really a cherry eater until this year. Now, I love them. Same for Ontario peaches. Too bad the season is so short.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You have no idea how much I miss Ontario peaches, Remi! I used to can them in brandy, and they would warm up the damp winter nights.