Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cherries in the North

I harvested the tart cherries this week and have a litre of pitted ones in the freezer already.  I used the Norpro cherry stoner, which worked fairly well.  I may have left in a pit or two, but considering the tart cherries are a bit smaller than the sweet ones and may not fit the same in the tool, I think I've done well.
Carmine Jewel tart cherries
These are the Carmine Jewel cherries, a variety well-suited to growth in the north.  These trees are about six years old and had a fair bit of fruit for their dwarf size.  There were no pests bothering the leaves or the fruit this year.  In previous years, pear slugs (not actually a slug, but the larvae of a fly), did some damage to the leaves.

Carmine Jewel tart cherries
We decided to pick them this week after seeing the robins rustling around in the trees, thinking they'd found a generous supply of food close to home.  The robins can have the domestic Saskatoon berries.  I don't like those anyhow.

Cherry tree before the cherries ripened
If you've never had tart cherries, don't let the name put you off.  If you let them ripen to a deep red, they are sweet.   I think that their main advantage over the sweet cherries is that they are superior to sweet cherries in baking and many other cooked items.  I personally love them made up as a sauce on grilled pork.  Absolutely amazing.

Of course, it is great that they just survive at all up here.  The pretty little round trees are also quite attractive.  Several more varieties of tart cherries have been introduced since these ones were created, and I'd even try growing these in warmer climates when we should move away from the north.  Hopefully we'd still find them pest-free.  I've heard that the sweet cherries in the Okanagan, British Columbia, often end up pest-ridden (usually full of worms) if not sprayed.

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