Season: Mid-July to Late July
When we started growing tart cherries, few people wanted to pick, not knowing what to do with them. We were then contacted by Allagash Brewery in Portland, ME. They are a very locally minded brewery, who sells many different, limited supply, specialty brews, available only at their brew house in Portland. One of these is now a Tart Cherry Beer from our cherries! Their demand is up, and so is the demand from our customers who are becoming more and more interested in pick your own cherries. We have planted another whole acre of tart cherries to keep up with the demand, but the trees are not growing fast enough! We will advertise on FaceBook if there is enough cherries available after picking what is required by Allagash. In the coming years, we should have more than enough for everyone, in the meantime, we apologize to those who are unable to get them.
Because cherries are in a tree, you often need to two hands and cannot comfortably pick and hold your container at the same time. Try to find a container at home that you can attach a string or belt to and tie around your waist (it doesn’t have to be big, you can dump into a larger container as you pick). Hands free!
We are not supposed to allow customers on ladders, (those insurance companies!) but often times there are a couple left nearby for your use, though for the first few days to a week of picking, you can reach plenty from the ground. To save on a little bit of work and weight, you don’t need to pick the stem, its easier not to, so long as you process or freeze them quickly. If you don’t think you will get to them right away, you will want the stem. This is because the fruit gets damaged when you pull the stem out (no big deal since the have to be pitted!) and they become more susceptible to mold if let sit too long. If you DO want the stem – please save out trees by using two hands! The stem doesn’t come off that easily and you will want to hold the branch just above the stem and use your other hand to pull stems with the cherries off.
Ahhh, the one thing that really is no fun about cherries! If you have a hand pitter that you use on sweet cherries, we find that it doesn’t work well on Sour cherries. Old fashion, hand-crank pitters do well, and they may have something newer on the market that I am not aware of, but do keep in mind the difference in size and texture of sweet cherries and the sour cherries that we sell. That said, if you don’t have a ton of cherries to pit, you can do it by hand. Use your thumb and two or three fingers to pinch the bottom half of the cherry and gently squeeze the pit out of the stem hole. Its easy, just more time consuming.
Freezing cherries is very simple – minus the pitting part! Be sure to pit your berries first as the fruit softens in the freezer, you don’t want to handle them that much after they have thawed. You can pop them in a bucket or bag, with or without sugar. I would recommend without sugar as you will most likely be baking or jamming with them and you don’t want to have to adjust your recipe for the added sugar!