I’ll obey them in the winter when the doctors say to me
I must give up steak and chocolate, and obedient I’ll be.
To improve my health and figure in December they can try.
But there’s none of them can stop me when it’s time for cherry pie.
–Based on the poem, Cherry Pie, by Edgar A. Guest, 1935
Last summer, during cherry season, we went to one of our local farm stands and found that they had bags of sour cherries for sale. For a long time I’ve wanted to make a cherry pie with sour cherries, but didn’t have a source for them in California. They may be sold there, but I never found them. I did make a pie with sweet cherries, and that day is best forgotten. That was my only experience with cherry pies. So…sour cherries. In Oregon. We bought a bag, and I found a recipe, and oh. my. goodness. It was the best pie I have ever eaten. I told Bruce that we had to get a sour cherry tree. Off we went to the nursery and bought one Montmorency (sour), a Rainier and a Stella (both sweet). The Montmorency and Stella are self-pollinators, but the Rainier is not. The Rainier is a yellowish cherry and probably the sweetest of all the cherries. The Stella is a large, deep red cherry. They were sad little trees compared to our other fruit trees, but I had high hopes. Of course, I’m always surprised when anything ever grows, but I still had high hopes…because, there are cherry pies to be made!
Sometime in the spring, our little tree looked like this–
Oh, wow! Blossoms on the Montmorency tree! Keep your fingers crossed! Then there was this–
Fantastic! Fruit on the Montmorency tree!
I didn’t think there would be enough fruit for a cherry pie this year, so in June, we again drove over to our local farm stand, Brosi’s, early in the morning, and spent a very lovely morning picking cherries. We may have gotten out of control. We picked a total of about 55 pounds of cherries–sweet and sour. The sweet cherries were Lapin, and you never saw such a deep red color as on those cherries. They were gorgeous, and juicy, and sweet and so delicious! The sour cherries were half red and half yellow, and had a bit of sweetness to them. I don’t know the variety, but they were not Montmorency. Here we are having fun in the orchard–
daughter Sara; Bruce on the ladder; Sara on the ladder
Brosi’s sour cherries
We took our haul home, and proceeded to wash and pit them. We bought a cherry pitter that only does one cherry at a time and it is labor intensive. I think I’ll be looking for a better one before next year. We canned all of the sweet cherries and some of the sour. The bulk of the sour cherries went into the freezer and the rest went into…what else? A cherry pie! With all those cherries in the freezer, I can have a cherry pie whenever I want to…or better yet, a cherry crisp. It tastes the same and is much easier.
washing the cherries; pitting-the pits go to the bottom chamber; the cherry sits in a depression and the plunger forces the pit out
we canned sweet cherries in bourbon (supposed to be brandy, oops!), sour cherries in bourbon, and sweet cherry jam with amaretto
So, what happened to our little Montmorency tree? It ended up having quite a lot of fruit on it, so much so that we had to put a net around it to keep the birds from eating the entire crop. Now, unlike Brosi’s sour cherries, these Montmorency cherries actually are sour, so I don’t know why the birds like them. They also had a bright red color. We picked enough to make half a batch of sour cherry jam and I have no idea why we have any left or why I wasn’t eating it straight out of the jar. It has the same cherry flavor as the sweet jam with amaretto, but it’s more of a sweet/tart flavor. This is now officially my favorite jam. Maybe next year I’ll be willing to part with some jars.