I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer to pick fruit for the wonderful organization “Not Far From The Tree”. Now that so many people know about it, it’s increasingly difficult to get in on a pick. So I was thrilled to be one of the chosen the other day for sweet cherries.
This year’s cherry trees are absolutely laden, so I knew that I’d come home with more than 12 cherries like that fateful time in 2011….
The insanely tall cherry tree (too tall for any of our ladders) that is two doors down is absolutely dripping with fruit – the birds and squirrels are ecstatic.
When I left the house, I imagined that I was going to be unable to carry my share of fruit home and I took 5 fruit baskets with me, to carry as much as I could, planning to magnamimously offer my extra cherries to the others.
When I arrived at the house, I saw a giant cherry tree full of tiny cherries that were half a lovely cream colour and half rose coloured (I have no idea what kind of cherries they are – except that they are sweet).
Two of us went up to the flat roof over the second floor of the house and we could just reach some of the branches that were overhanging. The woman picking with me is more intrepid than I and as we gazed longingly at the clusters of cherries high up out of our reach, she said she thought she might be able to balance on the third floor roof to get some.
I looked at the almost 45 degree angle and after some reflection, I nixed it. She wisely agreed.
When we were picking the fruit, we talked about what we’d do with it when we got home. I said I thought I would probably stew them and then use them later. My colleague said she was going to make cherry tarts but wasn’t sure how she was going to pit them all.
I said that we had discovered the wonders of stewing cherries with the pits in and then pitting them after they were stewed. It’s WAY easier….
As projected, we did stew almost all the cherries. Without pitting them first.
But, in fact, we did end up pitting a few of the cherries. We decided that the few windfall cherries I brought home were too bruised to stew (they fell from a very great distance – the tree was exceedingly tall). We had to cut away almost half of each windfall cherry before it could be used. (Only the volunteers are allowed to take windfall cherries. We NEVER give fruit that has fallen onto the ground to the charity or to the home owner, in spite of the fact that our first job on arrival is to clear away and compost any fruit that has already fallen to the ground. That way, we know that whatever fruit is on the ground, when we finish picking, has only been there a very short time.)
We decided to stir-fry the windfalls with red Swiss chard – harvested from our garden!!
You might not appreciate how miraculous this is. We have large trees in our garden so it is primarily shade to deep shade. But in the laneway behind the garage, there is plenty of sun. So I put Swiss chard into pots behind the garage. And it’s actually beginning to produce leaves!! Sure, it’s not a lot of leaves yet, but there were enough to make a modest side tasting dish for dinner.
Here’s what I did with the windfall cherries to make this fabulous Swiss chard dish. The only thing I’d change is the amounts used. Swiss chard really shrinks down!
Swiss Chard and Cherries
no measurements – you just have to wing it
- fresh cherries
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- brown mustard seeds
- onion, sliced thinly in half moons
- garlic, sliced thinly
- dried red chili(s), seeded and chopped finely
- Swiss chard, chopped into bite-size pieces (keep stems separate)
- Kosher salt
- rice vinegar
- Wash and stem the cherries. Remove any that have really bad blemishes. Cut each cherry in half and remove the pit. Splash a little lemon juice over the cut cherries and set aside.
- Put a splash of olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cook until the seeds begin to pop.
- Add onions and fry until they are just beginning to colour.
- Add cherries, garlic, chili and chard stems and cook for about one minute. Stir in chard leaves and salt. Add a splash of rice vinegar and continue cooking uncovered until the leaves wilt.
It’s best if this is served immediately but it can be gently reheated. The chard is great with a grilled chop or barbecued chicken. Stir-fried Swiss chard also wonderful on rice in a vegetarian dinner with lentils and chickpea patties.Notes:
For 6 smallish Swiss chard leaves, we used half an onion, one garlic clove, about 15 small cherries and one small dried red chili.
“Not Far From the Tree” (NFFtT) is a Toronto organization that includes a residential fruit-picking program to pick fruit (with permission, of course) that would otherwise go to waste.
There are lots and lots of fruit trees in Toronto!! Bearing fruit that is eaten by birds, squirrels and raccoons. If you have such a tree and would like the animalsto share the fruit with people, please do contact “Not Far From the Tree”. They will send a team of pickers to clean up your yard of fallen fruit and pick the good fruit that is still in the tree. The harvested fruit is divided evenly into 3 portions: one third going to the tree owners, one third going to the volunteer pickers and the final third going to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens.
For more information about NFFtT and how you can donate your time and/or share your fruit, please go to
I’m a little curious to know what kind these tiny cherries are. They are very similar to some of the NFFtT cherries I picked in 2012. I’m guessing that these ones are “Napoleon (or Royal Ann)” or possibly “Vega” and maybe “Rainier”. I’m going to go with “Napoleon”….
Whatever they are, they’re great with Swiss chard!
They’re also very good stewed with a little sugar and served over sweet cream ice cream. (No photos of that… we were too busy with our spoons.)
Read more about cherries:
- Canadian Living Magazine: Cherry jubilee by Andrew Chase (includes lots of recipes for cherries)
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Cherry Cultivars – Sweet and Tart
We headed out to the farmers’ market and saw that the damage was a little more than we first thought. We rode down the lane…
And then turned the corner….
- Swiss Chard:
» Stir-fried Radishes and Swiss chard (WHB #437)
» Swiss Chard Revisited Yet Again (ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday)
» Swiss chard is fabulous in an omelette (ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday)
» Swiss Chard (ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday)
» Cherry Season = Cherries Jubilee
» Freshly Picked Cherries! (stewed cherries)
» cherry snowballs (ECC revisited)
» Wordless Wednesday: can we bake a cherry pie?
» black bean brownies (MLLA#10) (cherries jubilee)
» mmm… cherry strudel
» Flambeed food (cherries jubilee)
- Not Far from the Tree:
» Wordless Not-Wednesday: what to do with all those apples
» Wordless Not-Wednesday: Cherries! …sweeeeeet!
» Any apples in that basket?
» Those are plums?!
» apple juice!
» making grape jelly (or not), step one: make juice
» mmmmmmuffins laced with grapes and green chillies
» Grape/Onion/Blue Cheese Fougasse is Fabulous
» monkey see, monkey do: cheesecake revisited…
» Freshly Picked Cherries!
» Mmmmmm… pie and pear chutney….
» 2 Kinds of Chutney: Pear and Coconut
» Mmmmmm… pie and pear chutney….
» Let’s share, shall we?
» Pears galore (real food)