Posted by: Marie | July 10, 2012

(666) So it was cherry week

Post #666
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, August 11, 2011]

A few days ago, the members of our local Chamber of Commerce provided a breakfast for all the new teachers joining our local schools. We do this every year as a way to welcome them to our community. We feed them a very nice breakfast and then give them “goodie” bags that contain teaching supplies and coupons.

I worked the sign-in table at the event, alongside Jody, our local Mary Kay representative. At one point during the event, Jody was asking around to see if anyone was interested and/or willing to come out to her farm yet that morning to pick the last of the cherries from off her cherry trees. (Her farm is about two miles out of town.)

Going Green by Martin Chen

She said the lucky person who helps her gets to take home all the cherries they care to take – well, all the cherries they care to pick and take, not just take, LOL.

She said her husband would operate the front-end loader (really a small tractor with a bucket) while she and the volunteer could sit in the tractor’s bucket and pick. So, she needed someone who wasn’t afraid of heights and of getting a bit dirty. And, the picking had to be done today because within another day or two, the cherries would be too ripe and/or the birds will have finished them off.

The deal with fresh cherries is that they have to be pitted and frozen (or eaten) within 24 hours of being picked because they go bad very quickly. These are pie cherries, so they freeze well . . . but, first, you have to pit them. And pitting a few pounds of cherries can be an all-day task unless you have a pitting machine . . . which I don’t. So, at first, I wasn’t very interested in her offer.

Then, I realized that my mom would likely be interested in some of the cherries, and she could pit her own cherries. And, my Hispanic friend, Maria, would definitely be interested in some, and she could pit her own cherries.

Oh . . . and . . . I had been trying to figure out what to take to my cousins in southern Colorado as a nice “thank you” gift when I visit them next month. They are not at all into material things and they live a very simple, earth-friendly life, so I was struggling to think of something they would enjoy. I realized that I could pit and freeze enough cherries for a big pie . . . all the work required to pit and freeze that many cherries (2-3 hours for a novice such as me) would, in and of itself, be an awesome gift . . . one they would definitely enjoy and appreciate . . .

So, I took Jody up on her offer. She was very appreciative because she really needed the help to harvest the last few pounds she needed for her own food pantry . . . and I assured her I would find good homes for all the remaining cherries!

It only took us about 90 minutes to clean off the remaining two trees. She had already picked all the cherries that could be reached from the ground, so we only had to clean off the crowns of the two trees.

We put my cherries into plastic grocery bags. We could fill each bag only about1/2 to 2/3 full because the weight of the cherries (they were very heavy and juicy) would smash the ones on the bottom. Smashed cherries turn brown within a couple of hours . . . and they make a heck of a mess! I ended up with three grocery bags of cherries . . . I would guess there were 3-4 pounds of cherries in each bag. That’s a lot of cherries!

I drove straight from Jody’s farm to my mom’s work – I showed up unannounced. They all got to laughing at me because I had cherry juice and dirt smeared all over my face and clothes . . . and twigs and leaves stuck in my hair (I hadn’t taken the time to look at myself in the mirror). But, I didn’t care . . . and neither did they. They were all too focused on what I was carrying in my hand . . .

I left one whole bag and part of another bag with them and they split the cherries up between three or four households, including my mom. They were so delighted to be surprised with a windfall of extremely fresh and flavorful produce, LOL!

After saying fond good-byes (I know the people at her work quite well), I headed back to my little town and dropped off a bag at Maria’s house. Then, I went home and started washing and pitting and packaging . . .

The finished product (two quart ziplock bags full of cherries) turned out beautifully. I got the cherries into the freezer before they turned brown, so they have a beautiful, rich red color to them. I must say, those are the best looking bags of frozen cherries I have ever seen! I’m sure my cousins will appreciate them!

Later that evening, it dawned on me that my cousins might already have a freezer full of cherries . . . maybe frozen cherries aren’t such a great gift idea . . . so I shot off a Facebook message asking them about that . . .

The next day, my cousin responded via email that he couldn’t figure out how to respond to my Facebook message, so he decided to use email instead to tell me that they don’t have cherries in their freezer and they would LOVE for me to bring along some cherries for them.

Well, good!

Today, I received an email from my mom:

Everyone enjoyed the cherries. Carrie made jelly. Tracey pitted all hers and put them in her freezer. I made a cherry pie (in the freezer). Kurt took his handful and ate them at his desk and the leftovers he took home. He said he likes “sour”. Thanks for sharing with us and doing the hard work. I went to Craft Day on Tues and Lilly had just picked her cherry tree and brought two small pies to share with us. So it was cherry week.

Yes, so it was. What an adventure! That was something I’d never done before . . . maybe I’ll do it again next year . . . LOL.


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