Millions of Cherries, What Could They Be?
July 7, 2022 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Millions of cherries, cherries for me?

Cherries grow right next door,
Never seen these cherries before.
Not quite what I'm used to.

Neighbor doesn't know what kind
Of cherries they are, but she don't mind,
If I pick some and eat them too.

But I just have to know why
Should I eat these raw, or in a pie?

Millions of cherries, cherries for free
Millions of cherries, cherries for me.
posted by Slinga to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
All of the best tricks I know for identifying the type of cherry tree are based on the flowers, the bark, or what the fruit tastes like. Have you tasted any? Were they sweet or (fingers crossed for you) sour? If they're sour, I have many, many thoughts.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Lookin’ at the fruit tree
They sure look like montmorency
Lookin’ at the fruit tree
They sure look like montmorency

Cherries baked in a pie
With some sugar, my oh my
Tart and sweet and delicious

If I had my little way
I’d can cherries every day
Just eating flavorbombs by the ton
posted by homodachi at 10:31 AM on July 7, 2022 [9 favorites]

Those look like pie cherries, to me. Possibly Amarelles. What color is the flesh? That'll narrow it down.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2022

Those there are sour cherries, for sure. Probably there's a species you could ID them as, but it doesn't matter all that much--you actually care more about the growing conditions, specifically as it relates to how sour the fruit is. Depending on soil and sun, they can range from "pleasantly tart when fully ripe" to "holy crap I can't feel my face." I like 'em more toward the latter than the former, but tastes differ.

A word of warning: once they've been picked, you've got about 24 hours before your transcendent fruit becomes a sad soggy mush of fruit flies. If you can't cook or eat them before then, spread them out on a baking sheet and freeze them. They freeze and thaw beautifully, and will keep for months that way.

Depending on acidity and your tolerance, you can eat them raw, sure. Give them a quick rinse first, as those skins tend to attract every kind of detritus that flies by. They're really going to shine in baked goods. When baking with them, you basically want to stay out of the way of your cherries. Sweeten with brown or white sugar (you'll be surprised how much sugar you'll need to get to the level of sweetness most people associate with "cherry pie filling," and I recommend going 50-75% of the way there to start), some ground tapioca or cornstarch to thicken, and then a little bit of almond or vanilla extract to emphasize their flavor. Lately I've been adding a little bit of fresh lemon zest as well--it gives you even more depth of flavor.

Congratulations on discovering one of nature's greatest bounties in your neighbor's yard! I'm happy to share more thoughts on cherry recipes, though I may ask you to tithe :-)
posted by Mayor West at 10:56 AM on July 7, 2022 [10 favorites]

My guess is that Mayor West is correct.

Assuming that is the case, I wouldn't want to waste them on pie, personally. I'd be more excited to use them to make sour cherry jam, as that stuff is magical. I'd be most excited to make vișinată, which is a Romanian sour cherry cordial... sort of the sour cherry version of Chambord.

Mayor West ain't kidding though: decide fast. The window for picking them is short and the window for deciding what to do with them once they're picked is something you track on a watch, not a calendar.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:02 AM on July 7, 2022

I am a plant idiot but those look identical to the cherries that grow on a tree at the end of my block. I grabbed a handful last summer on a walk, opened poison control on my phone just in case, and gave them a taste. Hands down the most sour tart cherries I have ever eaten in my life. (Didn't die tho.) Gave them a taste a little later on in the summer and they were still sour as shit.

And then it made sense to me why a beautiful cherry tree in full fruiting bloom in a densely populated area remained fully fruited for the entire season...
posted by phunniemee at 11:03 AM on July 7, 2022

Can't believe I forgot! You can also make meggy leves... Hungarian chilled sour cherry soup! Mind-bogglingly good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:07 AM on July 7, 2022

Those look like pie cherries to me. Pie cherries are bright red and more translucent than eating cherries. They will be very sour (that’s why they’re pie cherries—you eat them with added sweetener, not out of hand).
posted by HotToddy at 11:09 AM on July 7, 2022

Definitely sour/pie cherries. They'll make the best cherry pie you've ever had--a cherry pie that tastes just like cherry pie. Jam is also good, cherry-flavored syrup is good, and cherry wine is very good, if you're interested in a more long term project. They freeze excellently, no need to freeze flat, straight in a ziploc is fine, but do make the effort to pit them first. (They pit fine after frozen, but your fingers will get really cold, it's annoying.)
posted by radiogreentea at 11:36 AM on July 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised by the comments saying you have to use them quickly. I love sour cherries and buy them whenever I find them (which is sadly very rare as I am in California). My experience is that they're fine in the fridge for a week.

Anyway: I advise tracking down a cherry pitter if you can, but if you can't, try a metal straw, awl, or compass.
posted by aws17576 at 12:27 PM on July 7, 2022

Response by poster: I tried a few, and they're a bit tart but not excessively so. They are pretty ripe, so I can pull them off the tree and the pits just stay with the stems. I'll have to get cracking on a pie or other things. Thanks for all the help.
posted by Slinga at 12:39 PM on July 7, 2022 [2 favorites]


Also, if you're in the US, for questions about IDing plants, it's always a good time to plug Master Gardener programs! (Both my parents are Master Gardener volunteers, and I hope to be one someday.) They volunteer under programs run by land-grant universities, and are available to answer folks' questions about gardening, including about food plants. Some programs also have staff to help with canning/preserving questions, too.

Based on a location tagged in your Asks, here is a link to a local Master Gardener contact form, which also allows photo attachments!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 12:41 PM on July 7, 2022

posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 12:42 PM on July 7, 2022

I'm so jealous! I grew with sour cherry trees in my backyard and love them to bits! I eat them reshly pitted in a bowl with some sugar to taste.
We also used to freeze bags of them mixed with sugar for pie making in the middle of winter (we may have also added tapioca or cornstarch for thickener, but not sure on that, that may have been added once cherries thawed before they went into the pie shell).

Also we canned them, again using sugar. You can find versions of this in eastern european delis and markets. And thirdly made jam from them.

I'm hoping to finally plant some orchard trees this year and you can bet at least a few of them will be sour cherries.
posted by newpotato at 1:44 PM on July 7, 2022

So, for your plant identification needs, there is a paid app (that is well worth the few bucks) called Seek, which lets you point your cell phone camera at basically any plant or animal or insect and it will tell you what it is. It's some of the most magical technology I've ever encountered, and I recommend it for any and everyone. It will probably identify these cherries for you without fail.
posted by hippybear at 1:11 PM on July 10, 2022

I like sour cherry syrup; I recently made this one!

And a local place has meggy leves and I just tried it cause I know what it is thanks to DirtyOldTown!
posted by Argyle Road at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older What knot to use for a clothesline between posts...   |   Conference App Recommendations Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.