Cherry picking

Does this man love me or what?

So I’ve been envying eyeing the lovely cherries ripening on my neighbor’s tree the last few weeks. This Saturday, I thought it might be fun to get out and enjoy a picnic in the park with friends, with just a little bit of an ulterior motive. I had seen another cherry tree on a city road, and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, these were wild cherries and might be found at this large park out in the country.

Sure enough, what did we park our car under but a huge, wild cherry tree! Before we left, I gathered up the bowls I had brought (you know, just in case), and we started picking. Only problem was, all the good cherries were way up high.

Enter my enterprising husband. You can’t actually tell in this picture, but the back wheels of our car are actually backed up slightly onto a concrete block at the end of the parking spot, to get him up just a little bit higher. He wouldn’t let me up on top of the car to pick cherries, for fear of adding the extra weight and causing the wheels to move from their precarious perch.

We discovered that night that fresh wild cherries are really good with ice cream, though unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of cherry compared to how much pit you get. Nonetheless, free and delicious is worth all the work it took to pit them (and my husband to pick them!).

Speaking of berries, I’ve been thinking about my strategy for the rest of the summer. We are serious berry and fruit eaters around here, so I am sacrificing much of my budget next month to continue stocking up (I just packed up 20 lbs of strawberries today- yummy!).

Here’s what I anticipate we’ll need for the upcoming year:

50 lbs of blueberries
50 lbs raspberries
30 lbs blackberries
30 lbs strawberries
20 lbs peaches
A case each of apples and pears (I don’t know how many lbs that is)
And maybe some cranberries in the fall

Here’s my plan:
Blueberries- mostly frozen for smoothies, muffins, etc. as well as making and canning a bit of jam and syrup
Raspberries- same as blueberries
Blackberries- freeze, and maybe a bit of syrup
Strawberries- probably all frozen, though I may end up doing some jam
Peaches- freeze in slices for smoothies
Apples- make into applesauce and can
Pears- slice and can
Cranberries- freeze

What are your plans for preserving the sweet fruits of summertime? Does your family go through a lot of berries and other fruits? What do you use them for?

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  1. I’m so bummed I didn’t get more strawberries to freeze. I did make about 12 half pints of jam and a few ziplocs full for freezing, but I’m quickly going through them making smoothies! Unfortunately the season is now over. 🙁

    Blueberries will be ripe later this week, so hopefully I can get out on Saturday (so hubby can stay home with the toddler)(that’s why I didn’t get enough strawberries – I had him with me) I’d hoped to get about 10 pounds, but now I’m thinking a bit more so they last longer. Like you, more like 50 pounds! I’d like to freeze all of them for muffins, smoothies, and eating with yogurt.

    I have to find a farm to get peaches and pears, but I hope to both can and freeze them. I’d like to get enough to can at least a dozen quarts of each and have at least 2 dozen quart sized ziplocs of peaches to freeze.

    I’d also like to try my hand at canning applesauce. We go through a lot of it since I use it as a substitute for oil in quite a few of my recipes. I’d also like to try and put some in cold storage, enough to get us through Dec. anyways. after that it might get to cold in the garage.

    I am spending a bit more on our food this summer, but I’m also hoping that I can make it stretch and help us out with the grocery budget in the winter when my hubbys work slows down. I have been able to sell things we don’t need anymore to fund the extra expense! So far, so good!

  2. This is my first year trying to preserve summer fruits, so I’m going to try to learn to make jam this week, or next week! I’ve never tried it before, so I’m hoping for the best. 🙂

  3. Where are you getting all of these?! Are you picking at local farms, ordering, etc? We plan on going blueberry picking in the next week or two, but I would LOVE to find a mass quantity of cherries for cheap. They’re so expensive at the store. Hope you find everything!

    Mrs. S

  4. Mmmm. Fruit. At least half our monthly food bill goes towards fruit. Someday we’d like to have a little land so we can grow our own fruit trees and save a lot of money. Till that day comes, we’ll have to continue to purchase all we can on sale and stock up.
    What do we do with fruit? Usually we use it raw in green smoothies. A good example would be grapes, strawberries, bananas and celery. Or blueberries, bananas and spinach. There are several combinations, but as much green is the key. Bananas are the base because they are cheap(est) and creamy.
    We like to make jam (strawberry is our favorite). I use Pamona’s Universal Pectin … that allows me to use about 1/2c honey and 1t stevia per batch of jam; this is plenty sweet.
    If we run into a big sale, I will buy all I can and then freeze it. For example, globe grapes (our favorite) went on sale once for .80 a pound. We bought about 50 pounds and froze them. They did not last too long though. We used to live in the PNW and would pick wild blackberries. It’s so hard for me to pay for them now when I used to get them for free…

    Nice topic!

    In Christ,

  5. Joanne,
    I have to say thank you for reminding me that grapes can be frozen! I just found an orchard not far from my house and want so pick them myself once the season starts. Now I know what to do with them!

  6. Jenn, in addition to our regular fridge freezer, we have a standard sized deep freeze in our garage, so that’s how we’re able to do all of this! We have now owned 3 freezers, and have gotten every one of them free (mostly off the side of the road).

    Wow, Donielle, good for you!

    Muthering Heights, good luck with making the jam! 🙂

    Mrs. S, we get most of our berries by picking them at local farms. We are fortunate to live on the West Coast, where berries flourish and are widely grown. We usually do u-pick, so they are cheaper per pound. We buy the tree fruit by the case, which comes from a few hours north of us, so it’s wonderful and fresh and fairly cheap.

    Joanne, I can’t stand to pay for blackberries either! They grow wild here, and although they are challenging to pick, I just cannot justify paying for them when they are free for the taking everywhere you look!

  7. I am stopping by to invite you to participate in the The Carnival of Home Preserving.

    It is a Carnival to Share Recipes and How-To’s for Canning, Freezing, Dehydrating (drying), and Root Cellaring of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs.

    The first edition is posted if you would like to come visit:

    Carnival of Home Preserving – July 14, 2008 Edition

    Submit your blog post (new or one of your archived ones that meets the above description) to the next edition of carnival of home preserving using the carnival submission form.

    The Deadline to Submit is every Sunday 6pm EST

    The Carnival posted by that Monday on the respective Host’s blog.

    Everyone is welcome to join in (beginners and experienced alike).


  8. Ahhh you’ve posted a lot since I last checked! 🙂

    I just went strawberry picking today. I left my toddler with DH and picked 14 quarts. I will go back next week for some more plus some raspberries. Soon the wild raspberries and wild blueberries will be on and I plan to pick a lot of them. Raspberries are harder to find hence “supplementing” with the farm ones. Last year I tried pears and peaches and wasn’t too happy with either. I did it without sugar…it was alright. I froze and canned some. I also tried apples last year but wasn’t overly happy with that either. I hope to try a new recipe/way this year.

    We mainly use berries fresh in season for eating, and frozen in smoothies. Oh and blueberries in muffins and such. This year I hope to learn some new recipes to do baking with some of the frozen fruit. And I was just given a dehyrdrator so I hope to try dehydrating some things (I am thinking some things will be better than others…) wish I could find a wild cherry tree too! Enjoy!

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