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!
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
- Fresh whole UNpitted cherries
- lemon juice
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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” 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
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.
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:
- 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
- Not Far from the Tree:
» 2 Kinds of Chutney: Pear and Coconut
» Mmmmmm… pie and pear chutney….
» Let’s share, shall we?
» Pears galore (real food)
» cherry snowballs (ECC revisited)
» Wordless Wednesday: can we bake a cherry pie?
» black bean brownies (MLLA#10) (cherries jubilee)
» mmm… cherry strudel
» Cardamom Bread for Easter (cherries jubilee)
» Flambeed food (cherries jubilee)