Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sour Cherries

Oooooohhhh, there is no fruit that makes me quite as excited as cherries. They are only good for a couple of weeks in June and maybe early July. But the BE ALL, END ALL cherry, the most elusive of them all, is the sour cherry. Not every orchard grows sour cherries, and it seems like they are only good one week out of the entire year. And it always seems like I am on vacation when they are available. I have only purchased sour cherries once before and they were so delicious that I still remember what I did with them, the world's tiniest peach and cherry pie. I swear the store I bought them from only had the smallest containers available, so there weren't even enough to make a full pie. But it was amazing!

Cherry has always been my favorite flavor. Red is naturally my favorite color. And there is no pie quite like cherry pie. I loved cherry pie when I was a child, but as I grew up I realized that no one ever made a cherry pie from scratch. The 'eatin' cherries were too sweet and hard and no grocery store carry sour cherries. So people are forced to buy that horrible gelatinous mess called cherry pie filling. Gross. Sour cherries even during the one week they are available are so delicate that they cannot be distributed aggressively by grocery stores. I have only ever found them at specialty stores and the farmer's markets.

At my farmer's market the cherries arrived last week or the week before but just now was the first time that I saw sour cherries. Fortunately the farm I usually buy from had big buckets of them. But as is normal, I was going on vacation. It was a very inconvenient time for me to be buying sour cherries. The Orchard was selling pints, quarts and double quart sizes. Thing 1 was stealing strawberries out of all the open containers. Thing 2 was in the Ergo carrier trying to pull Thing 1's hair. My bag of milk and eggs and turkey was so heavy already that it was leaving a red mark on my arm. I had so much going on, and I was staring at the cherries. What to do??

I finally took action before they were all gone. I bought a double quart. I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by again.

I prepped them the next morning, took off the stems, cleaned them up and pitted them. Cherries are no longer a hassle now that I own a cherry pitter. It works for olives too. See the picture below.

You just pop the little bugger on that plastic thingy and depress the plunger and you have pitted cherries. I will set Thing 1 up in his high chair with a bowl full of cherries and just let him go to town. He gets every one outThese sour guys were so soft and delicate that the pits came out super easy. I got my cherry pitter at Zabar's on the Upper West Side. I have looked everywhere. Nothing at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond or other local places. I highly recommend getting a cherry pitter and I found some places online. There is nothing else in the kitchen that can replace the ease of this little machine. Whoa. So worth the $8.

I plan on making a pie with these cherries. Or maybe jam. Or maybe muffins!! I have what feel like about 3 pounds of cleaned and pitted cherries. They sit in my freezer now awaiting my wicked double crust or some other something. I cannot wait. Success!!

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