Cherries, Oh My


I’ve been picking cherries for the last couple of days.

I have a LOT of cherries.

The birds are causing no trouble whatsoever. In fact, I may put up a sign for the birds soon. With arrows.


The trouble is that some of the cherries are up high. Very high. I started with picking the cherries that I could reach from the ground. Then I got a ladder. Then I climbed higher on the ladder.

And now I’m a little scared, so I’m not sure how many more cherries I’m getting, though the cherries are awfully tempting. Some of the ground around the tree is level, and some of the ground is not, so there’s an element of danger in using a ladder and going too high on sloped ground. In the foreground of the above photo, you can see how the ground slopes down to the driveway. There are a lot of cherries up there, but I’m not sure how to get them.

Yesterday, I sugar-packed four pounds of cherries. Cherries, they don’t wait, but canning them must, so I sugar-packed them to put them on hold until I’m not so busy. (This has been a wild week.) Here’s how: Wash, stem, and pit cherries. I pit the cherries by making a small slit with a sharp knife at the stem-end….

….then popping out the pit.

Add 1/4 cup sugar per 1 cup cherries.



I’m not sure what I’m going to do with these cherries. I’m tempted by a brandied cherries recipe. I should be able to pick enough more cherries to do a round of jam, too, and then we’ll see how many more I can get because–did I mention, they’re HIGH? I don’t like to give up cherries, but I like to live, too. I can’t believe how many cherries there are on this tree. When using the cherries, I’ll take into account that there is 1/4 cup sugar per cup cherries already and adjust the recipe accordingly.

My neighbor Jim told me that there used to be two cherry trees here. The other one was on the other side of the drive. Now I know what that stump was that I had removed last winter when they were here with the backhoe working on the collapsed septic pipe.

Picking cherries is fun, and the pitting isn’t too bad, though it’s the only bad thing about cherries. It took me 1 1/2 hours to pit the four pounds of cherries yesterday. (I think I’m pretty slow.) I asked Morgan if she wanted to learn to pit cherries. I tried to say this like learn to ride a horse or learn to drive! SO EXCITING AND FUN. She said no. Hunh.

Strange girl!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on June 1, 2012  

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  1. 6-1

    Time for a cherry pitter? How do you pick and still leave the fruit spur?

  2. 6-1

    I’ve heard cherry pitters don’t make it go any faster. I’ve never tried one.

  3. 6-1

    You may not know this, but there is a kitchen tool called a cherry pitter. There’s a couple of different kinds but it does make quicker work of pitting cherries. I live near Niagara Falls, Ont. that is in a fruit growing area so I’ve pitted a few cherries myself. Both tools push the cherry pit through but I like the one that kind of looks like a set of pliers. On the lower part the cherry rests in a little”bowl” and the top part has a metal stem that pushes rhe pit through a hole in the lower “bowl”. I got mine in a kitchen store. The other kind also pushes the pit through but you have to hold the cherry so a little messier, a little more time consuming. But neither is as dangerous as using a sharp knife!

  4. 6-1

    Sorry, that was quick, I guess you did know about cherry pitters. The plier type does make quicker work.

  5. 6-1

    Cherries – the gift from heaven. I love love love cherries, and I even love picking them. Just planted two trees in my yard so that I don’t have to go to an orchard to pick. They are so beautiful hanging against the blue sky. And I’m here to testify that a cherry pitter does make it go much faster. I found my pitter in an antique store years ago; I suspect it’s better than what is currently offered on the market, though I haven’t tried any of them. It looks like one of those meat grinders that my mom used to use for making ham salad when we had leftover ham. It attaches to the counter by way of a clamp that’s tightened. I keep loading the hopper and voila – pitted cherries by the pound in at least half the time. Occasionally a pit will get caught in the wheel, but it works beautifully. Happy cherry picking Suzanne! :yes:

  6. 6-1

    Another pitter allows you to put in a bunch of cherries in the top and it allows one at a time to fall into a hole. Then you punch down the plunger and it pits the cherry. The pitted cherry and pit fall into separate compartments. It goes as fast as you can punch the plunger down.

    Watching you makes me want a cherry tree. Yum.

  7. 6-1

    We use a bent paper clip – stick one looped end of the paper clip (usually the smaller end) in the stem end of the cherry and pop out the pit! Most effective on really ripe cherries.

  8. 6-1

    In regards to getting more cherries from the tree. Why not get an old blanket or net or something that you can lay on the ground around the tree and then whack the heck out of the tree limbs with a long piece of wood to make the cherries from higher up fall down.
    Then all you have to do is gather up the corners of the blankets.
    Just an idea. I love fresh cherries but can’t stand them any other way and I hate the idea of so many being lost.

  9. 6-1

    I too love cherries and a pitter does go faster. One good thing about using a knife though is you will see any cherry worms. I usually get those in some of mine. Are they a sour(pie) cherry or sweet? I say one can never have too many cherries!

  10. 6-1

    You can use a plastic drinking straw to pit cherries, too. Just push the straw into the cherry and it collects the pit.

  11. 6-1

    They are tart. I’m a fanatic about checking for worms, so a cherry pitter might not be for me, LOL.

  12. 6-1

    I am so obsessed about the pits that when I make a cherry pie I count the cherries then I count the pits. If I have more cherries than pits I go back and find out who is holding out. Sometimes with the pitter, the pit still stays in the cherry. No chipped teeth at my house! Congrats on the harvest. That’s awesome.

  13. 6-1

    What a great picture of the cherries with your barn in the background!!! Those cherries so remind me of my auntie’s many year’s ago – what a treasure. That kind makes the absolute BEST pies. I also have a wonderful Rumtoft recipe that they are well suited for. Rumtoft = when fruit comes in season you put a layer of that fruit, add some sugar, and rum into a huge jar or crock and keep layering the fruit, sugar, and rum as things come into season. This makes a most delicious dessert topping by Christmas and throughout the Winter if you can make it last that long :). Let me know if you want the recipe – your cherries are perfect for it!

  14. 6-1

    I really think a pitter is quicker but it’s hard to get any cherries around here. Our bushes died & the bird’s got the neighbor’s. About leaving pits–I just squish around with my hands to check (wash hands first).

  15. 6-1

    I soooooo envy you your life! You are living the life I want to live… (and it only took me 45 years to figure it out..LOL)

  16. 6-1

    I am so glad you posted this! With father’s day coming up, I have planned on making cherry jam for the fathers in the family. I’ve never made cherry jam, well until last night! I pitted cherries using a small section of pencil thick copper pipe. It works really well and you don’t have to get carpal tunnel squeezing a pitter. Just my thought though. hehe!

  17. 6-1

    There is a tool you can use to get the cherries higher up in the tree. It looks like a backhoe bucket with teeth, only deeper. When full, it would hold around a half gallon of fruit. You can put it onto a pole to reach the top of most trees. I find I’m not able to whack the tree hard enough to get all the cherries I want to fall!

  18. 6-1

    Suzanne, one of your readers Murphala had the same problems with cherries being high in the tree, what she did was genius, she duct taped a fork on a long pole and pulled the cherries loose–very smart and a cheap tool to make! Women are so smart!! :yes:

  19. 6-1

    Beautiful cherries! What a gorgeous site you have to wake up to every morning. I was thinking there was some long tool (no idea of name – LOL) to reach up into the tree. Be careful. I would hate to waste any :(

    Enjoy :)

  20. 6-1

    ooh, I love Murphala’s cherry picker idea!!!

  21. 6-1

    i bottle my cherries whole without pitting them. i never have found any cherry worms…just lucky, i guess. we like them whole in a medium syrup as a dessert. we just spit out the seeds into the bowl. it is a family favorite and tradition.

    speaking of worms in produce, my mom was born in Paris,France and during the war they escaped the germans by walking by night and hiding by day until they reached family on the coast. she remembers going in the middle of the night into fields to pick lima beans so they would have something to eat. they would boil them and the worms would come out (cooked) and they would just eat around the worms. Makes me appreciate the things I have.

    Mama Carpenter (visiting in Nebraska) :snuggle:

  22. 6-1

    Morning Suzanne :wave: Lovely photos. Your farm is so much fun to watch unfolding. Reading the comments I’m thinking you’ve got the pitting problem solved to your satisfaction. It’s the picking – from a ladder – that’s giving you pause. Out here, in Central California, orchards are huge commercial operations and the pickers use tripod ladders. I Googled ‘fruit picking ladder’ They’re available, reasonably priced and much safer than your standard household 8 footer. Maybe, with all the trees you’be planted, the cherries and soon the apples one of them could be a good investment. Happy Cherry Season!

  23. 6-1

    As your fruit comes in you might want to buy a fruit picketer. It goes on the end of a pole and looks like a claw with a basket under it.

    We pick apples and other fruit in orchards and these work very well for fruit high up in the tree. No ladders. The claws might be too far apart for cherries though but you can bend them closer together if you need to. Nice inexpensive thing to have around.

  24. 6-1

    My grandfather had cherry trees when I was a child. Love cherries but hate to pit. We just picked up a cherry between thumb and pointer finger and squeezed…the seed came out. if it made a little pop sound we looked for a worm (if it popped you could bet the farm there was a worm). This was my Moms method and we never found a worm in all of those pie, preserves or canned cherries.

  25. 6-1

    Suzanne – STEAM JUICER! Cherry juice, no pitting!

  26. 6-1

    Steam juicer! I didn’t even think about it! Yes!

  27. 6-1

    Those cherries look so delicious. We had two “on the other driveway side”. Our drive was originally a horse shoe shape but my parents used only one side, hence “other driveway”. The neighbor kids and I spent the entire cherry season in those trees. There was never any left to freeze.

    What kind are yours? Ours were yellowish with a red blush. It seems that I heard the name “Queen Anne” for ours. Is there even such a thing?

  28. 6-1

    My cherry pitter is fantastic–it looks rather like white plastic scissors, but has a blunt curved end that pushes out the pit of the cherry thru the small cup with a hole in the middle. What I really like is the skin of the cherry holds the popped out piece like a like a little door-so cute! And pits into the bowl! I found a metal one at the thrift store recently–looks like s/s tongs with a similar poke-and-cup with hole in it. Haven’t yet tried it.

    The fork on a stick is a great idea, you might want to use a small garden rake instead to get more cherries! I also hate to leave any, and the best always seem to be at the top, out of reach! Use a bamboo pole, as it’s lighter! Our Gran (age 98 now) has a brilliant homemade fruit picker…a large tin can with a V-notch cut in it, with some cloth to pad the inside, taped & wired to a LONG, lightweight bamboo pole…we are out there in the Fall, pushing the V-notch at the stem of the fruit (pears & apples here)upward, and usually it falls right into the cup! A 2nd person is handy to lean the pole toward to dump the fruit into their hands, or they can search for the falling fruit that missed the can!

  29. 6-2

    Suzanne get your son to lift you in the tractor bucket. You can pick until you have to move the tractor. I have done it ofr 5 years. You can do it too…..

  30. 6-2

    Picked tons of sour cherries last year and made my son 24 jars of jelly from the cherry juice. Have to make twice of much this season because he loved it so much it didn’t last the year.

    Have a cherry pitter myself. One the way to picking cherries I stopped on the side of the road to read my directions to the orchard. There were some flowers on the side of the road I decided to look at and on the ground I saw some money wadded up in a ball. It was $25.00. It was in the middle of no where so there was no way to find out who lost it. When I went to pay for my cherries they were selling cherry pitters for $20. I saw it as a sign so I bought one! Will be using it again soon!

  31. 6-3

    Suzanne, thought you might be interested in this…According to Michigan Cherry Pit Recyclers, cherry pits burn hotter than wood pellets and leave almost no ash. Plus, it’s cheap fuel – at least if you’ve been eating a lot of cherries.

  32. 6-3

    read your comment that you like the stories so I will share another – love the cherries they look wonderful
    I had a couple of apple trees in the back yard and my 2 dogs were Basenjis – a little different – smaller dogs but VERY strong and VERY fast – I had one that was clever (opened drawers and helped herself etc) and one that was NOT clever – (often got the other one to help her with things) anyway – back to the apple trees – they would run the back yard figure 8 ing around the trees – about every 5th pass the not so clever one would run head first into the tree – we never had to pick apples – just go out and pick after her run – off the ground – so does Chloe have a hard head??

  33. 6-4

    I heard an idea on ‘The Splendid Table’ a radio program about food and cooking etc, anyway, the host (Lynne Rossetto Kasper) had a recommendation for tart cherry pie, not a recipe mind you, just a description. If you can find ‘almond paste’ not marzipan mind you, but a little similar, almost a fondant sort of product. you roll it out into a little disk to lay into the bottom of a partially baked pie crust. Put the pie filling on top of that and then the second crust if you’re using one and bake as usual.

    I love, love, LOVE almond + cherry, so this sounds really yummy. I just don’t have a good source of cherries.

  34. 6-6

    I’ll bet a cherry pit fire smells good! Try hitting the branches with a rake or scraping them with it to make the cherries that are higher come off.

  35. 6-12

    Rather than climb a ladder, is it possible to spread a sheet on the ground and shake the tree limbs hanging over it so that the cherries fall onto the sheet? I’ve never picked a cherry in my life so I don’t know if cherries would fall off using this method. I’m so envious of the cherries. Cherries are $3 a pound here.

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