Last week we went picking tart cherries in rural Lenawee County, Michigan with my mom, my sister, and her kids. My mom grew up down there. I guess tart cherries aren't very common for u-pick around the country, but Michigan is all about cherries this time of year. I grew up with a sweet cherry tree in my backyard, but I had never picked tart ones before, and was shocked to see how bright they were filling the trees. They looked like slot machine cherries. Like Pac-Man cherries:
It wasn't as easy for the kids to help, but the girl is super into u-picking these days so she found a way to climb the trees and managed a sizable haul of about three pounds.
The boy was a little frustrated he couldn't climb as well as his sister, but he managed to pick plenty on branchs that had fallen where fruit still grew. It didn't really matter because anything he picked either ended up in his belly or on the ground
He did love the cherry pitting machine back at the checkout. Cherries were 60 cents a pound unpitted, 85 cents a pound pitted. We picked fourteen pounds and opted to pay the extra couple bucks to get them pitted:
It was totally worth it, not only to watch them go through the machine. . .
But also to get home, wash them, and just throw them right into the pot to make jam. This was about half of what we picked:
It boiled down to about six pints of jam, and it set really nicely. I added a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg with the sugar, and in the end it still tastes a little tart but as sweet and delicious as a cherry pie.
As you can tell, we are really into picking berries and canning this year, probably because we are also really into peanut butter and jam sandwiches and there's such a sense of accomplishment to look at all those cans and know that the jam on your sandwich came from fruit you picked. We don't mind driving a ways to find a remote farm, and have decided to avoid any of those u-pick farms with all the amenities like petting zoos, corn mazes, and playgrounds. It seems like the further you go out, the cheaper the fruit is by the pound. Besides, who needs zoos, mazes, or jungle gyms when you can climb all over an old tractor?
Next up: gooseberries, red and black currants, raspberries and blueberries.
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