Early summer brings an embarrassment of riches when you know the right people…like my friend C, whose parents run *the most gorgeous* vegetable farm nearby. (It’s so gorgeous that I’ve been known to take friends there as part of their sightseeing tour of the area.) C herself is extraordinarily generous, and her parents are too—giving out bunches of basil and parsley (instead of selling them) to the customers who come to their farm every Friday to buy fresh-picked produce . I got to experience an extra dose of that generosity when I stopped by one Saturday evening and went home with nearly two pounds of sour cherries that C’s father had just picked. TWO POUNDS! (Photo shows only about half of that…and I didn’t style those cherries. They fell into position all by themselves.)
I was over the moon. Two pounds of sour cherries are a rare treat when you don’t have your own garden because they’ve gotten so hard to find or buy. After my original elation, I got fretful, though.The following days were majorly overbooked, and I simply wasn’t going to have any time to make anything with them. Sour cherries are highly perishable, so even a couple of days in the fridge would ruin them. So, while I would have loved to pit a pound for a batch of jam, I had to settle for saving them for later. I’ve got weekend guests coming at the end of the month who are going to get a cherry-laced dessert. Or maybe I’ll throw them into some sort of alcohol to make a cherry cordial.
Here is where I tell you how to freeze summer fruit. (In case you don’t already know.) Do not…I repeat DO NOT….pack it into plastic bags. This practice leaves you with mushy, misshapen fruit that takes FOR-EV-ER to thaw. Instead, spread your berries, cherries, sliced peaches, etc. on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then, once they’re frozen hard, transfer them to resealable plastic bags or freezer containers. I like freezing them in 2-cup portions. The smaller size fits better in my always-overstuffed freezer. Then again, since the fruit is individually frozen, you can also load it into a big bag, then just take out what you need. I didn’t pit my sour cherries because the two recipes I hope to make with them, clafoutis or cherry cordial, are infinitely better with the pits in.
A couple of days later…I just nipped around the corner to see if the sour cherry tree in a neighbor’s yard had any fruit still on it that I could…um….purloin. (Dont’ know the neighbors, think the house may even be a rental.) Where once there were branches so laden with fruit they could hardly hold themselves straight, now, there’s NADA. The blackbirds got to them, as I imagine they gobbled the sour cherries straight off of C’s parents’ trees. Good thing I froze what I could.