I spent the better part of the weekend harvesting two kinds of cherries (click for gorgeous cherries in springtime pictures), raspberries and the last of the rhubarb. And of the three fruits, the cherries were the most difficult. Sure, it's all fun and games when you can reach them standing flat footed, but if you have a regular sized cherry tree, then you have 15-20 feet to contend with...and I have two of them. So far, my organic pest and disease control methods have been shear avoidance...and I would not have been surprised to see my harvest blighted by a variety of problems. Happily, very few were to be seen.
Now, let me be clear, I did not plant these trees, I inherited them. If I had planted them, I would have chosen the dwarf variety...cute and short, that's how I like them. And though I am nearly 6 feet tall, I am no match for the height and spread of a traditional cherry tree.
I am not exactly certain of the varieties represented, though I think one is Rainier. The other is the sweetest, darkest red cherry...much larger than a bing. Together, they were truly a dynamic duo. I'll bet I ate a half a pound of them while I was cherry picking.
I addition to contorting myself and hopping around like a madwoman, I used a ladder. But, that really had limited use as the cherries were spread far and wide, not in nice little clumps. In a flash of insight, I realized my Groundhog rake would be perfect for snagging the cherries down from the branches. I grabbed it up and started waving it about...and though it took a bit of time to hone my skill, it was a fantastic implement. The long handle paired with the spacing of the tines brought down a whole second level of fruit. The top of the trees, I left for the crows.
Once inside, I washed and dried half of the cherries. Half of the batch went onto trays and into the freezer. The other half were pitted and placed on trays, ready for the dehydrator. Over all, both storage methods seem to be successful. The dried cherries will be great for baking, cereals and snacks. The frozen will be awesome in pies.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I saved some of the cherries for fresh use. Thinking about making cherry ice cream today. Check tomorrow's post on Portland Foodie for the recipe!