Freshly Picked Cherries!

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November 25, 2009 A Bunch of Cherries © Lisa Orgler; all rights reserved summary: recipe for stewed cherries; fresh cherries are better stewed with the pits in; information about Not Far From the Tree and Lisa Orgler’s LunchBox Project; (click on image to see larger view)

cherries Look at these cherries!! Beautiful fresh cherries!! And I helped to pick them!

I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer to pick fruit for the organization “Not Far From The Tree”. The first year I picked fruit, I had pears and apples galore. Last year, there was not nearly as much fruit borne on the urban trees. But I was thrilled to be included in one cherry pick last year. At the time, before going to pick, I imagined that I would have enough for several pies. Silly me. I came home with about twelve cherries. The 2011 urban cherry crop was devastatingly poor.

So when I got the chance to pick cherries yesterday, I jumped at it, thinking it would be nice to have a dozen or so cherries for breakfast today.

But I didn’t hold out much hope for more than that. The cherry tree that is two doors down appears not to have borne any fruit at all this year – all the blossoms were blown away in a rain storm before they were pollinated.

So imagine how thrilled I was when I arrived yesterday and saw that the tiny backyard was full of not one, but two cherry trees, both heavily laden with fruit. One a sweet red and the other a lovely cream with a red blush (I have no idea what kind of cherries they are – except that they are sweet and delicious).
When we were picking the fruit, we were all talking about what we’d do with it when we got home. I said I thought I might make pie. One woman said she was going to dry her cherries. Another said she would make drunken cherries. All the options sounded good, don’t you think?

But to dry the cherries or make pie would mean turning on the oven. It’s revoltingly hot right now (so hot that the power just went out – too many neighbourhood air conditioners blasting all day, no doubt). It’s 30C in this room and pretty much the same in all the other rooms. There’s no way we wanted to turn on the oven!

cherries So last night, we decided to stew a few cherries to find out whether they’d be good in pie. And tasted them.

Oh. My.

They are brilliant! We’re not making pie with those cherries! We’re making stewed cherries! Maybe we’ll be very chi-chi and spoon some of them into tart shells and garnish (maybe, unless we decide it’s gilding the lily) with goat’scheese/yoghurt/honey what with 50% of us not being allowed to have whipped cream.

This morning, before it got too revolting hot, T stewed the half of the rest of the cherries. (We think we might eat the rest fresh. They’re amazingly wonderful uncooked as well.) Here’s what he did to stew the cherries:

no measurements – you just have to wing it

Stewed Cherries

  • Fresh whole UNpitted cherries
  • water
  • lemon juice
  • sugar
  1. Wash and stem the cherries. Remove any that have really bad blemishes. Leave the pits in! The cherries taste better and once they are stewed, the pits fall out easily.
  2. Put the cherries into a pot with a tiny bit of water and a generous squirt of lemon juice. Sprinkle a little sugar over top.
  3. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the cherries are the consistency you like – about five minutes. You don’t want to overcook them.
  4. Pour into a sterilized jar. Allow to cool before refrigerating. We have no idea how long these keep. They are not lasting long in our fridge. People keep eating them. :-)

Serve the cherries on their own, or with ice cream. This throws quite a lot of juice – delicious cherry flavoured juice.


For very sour cherries, you’ll want to use more sugar.

Not Far From the Tree Not Far From the Tree

“Not Far From the Tree” 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

Lunch Box Project
a food collage journal

November 25, 2009 A Bunch of Cherries © Lisa Orgler; all rights reserved When I went to see other posts about “Not Far From the Tree”, I was reminded of Lisa Orgler’s lovely Lunch Box Project. I immediately went over to see what she had done with cherries….

The Lunch Box Project began on January 1, 2009 as a resolution to paint an image of food daily. I achieved my goal of 365 delectable illustrations and am now carrying on that tradition in new ways. […] I paint on anything I can find…including playing cards, drink coasters or just a plain sheet of paper.

-Lisa Orgler, The Lunch Box Project (Drawings featuring Cherry, Cherries)

edit 21 June 2012: I was curious to see what kind of cherries these light coloured ones are. One of the fellows picking cherries with us said they were used to make Maraschino cherries. (WHAT a waste that would be!)
Googling produced the names “Rainier” or “Ranier”, “Napoleon” or “Royal Ann”, and possibly “Vega” or “Windsor”. Are there other cherries that look like this too? I don’t know. I’m guessing that the light coloured cherries we picked were “Napoleon”.

Read more about cherries:



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4 responses to “Freshly Picked Cherries!

  1. Patricia

    When I see cherries, I always look at them longingly and wish I could eat them but they burn my mouth quite badly so I haven’t eaten them in a long time. Cooked cherries don’t seem to bother me though so next time I see them at the Farmers’ Market, I’ll buy some to stew them. Maybe Sunday!

    I’m so glad I don’t have that allergy to drupe fruits! But, if it’s any consolation, while the fresh cherries were exceedingly delicious, the stewed cherries were even more delicious. I hope you see cherries at your Sunday market, Patricia! -Elizabeth

  2. barbara

    Ya, I have that problem with burning mouth too, for all the stone fruits. For me, they don’t have to be actually cooked; just sitting in sugar for a while makes them ok. Better than nothing, but it’s Not The Same as biting into a cherry or a pear or a peach.

    I have also been able to eat hard pears after sitting for a few minutes in vinaigrette. I haven’t tried any of the other problem fruits, because I _love_ hard pears in salad.

  3. barbara

    Those stewed cherries were fabulous. Thanks for letting me have some!

    P.S. I think I missed this “cherries” post at first because it’s sort of sandwiched between two posts about the wild-yeast starter. I didn’t recognize that the second one was different from the first one, even though the picture for the second one doesn’t look nearly as frightening as the first one (brrrrrr).

    They ARE really good, aren’t they? Glad you liked them, Barbara! -Elizabeth

  4. Patricia

    I made these last night to finish an excellent Canada Day dinner. We had them over yogurt. Some people had Honey Yogurt, others had Lemon Yogurt. Some of us had both. I have to say the stewed cherries were fabulous on their own and even more wonderful with Lemon Yogurt.

    I’m so glad they worked for you, Patricia! Oooh, I bet they’re great with lemon yoghurt! :-) -Elizabeth


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