What is with this time of the year? It’s insane how, as much as I try to rest and chill – the more activity pops up and all of the dreams I had to sit and blog my heart away, are “poof!” – gone. I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that my life is continuously busy and I’m just going to have to snatch as many ‘me’ moments as I can. This would be to do the things that I want to do and hopefully make awesome memories with my family.
Talking about memories with family. I might as well tell you about our first time venturing out to do some cherry picking. Let me tell you, that as much as it sounds like a wonderful idea – I think we will definitely consider the distance we had to travel in order to have our little excursion.
From our home to the actual venue it was about two hours of driving. Now to some, that’s nothing – but to those of us with ‘little people’ who don’t always sleep all the way or aren’t happy to sit in the car for that much time – I would suggest making sure you plan to sleep over or have several stops to help the little person cope well and make the experience pleasant. Or you could do what we did and wait until the little person is big enough to understand the trip and enjoy it as well.
Anyway, there’s a cherry tree orchard outside of Ceres in the Western Cape called Klondyke Cherry farm. It’s just so awesome how this place operates. I think the bonus of being in a homeschooling community is that trips like this get organized and become educational. This is, instead of just going there and picking without understanding how, why and what we’re really there for.
So we were able to have a little talk with the gentleman that owns the farm. Allan (I think his name is) explained a few things about growing cherries, why they’re so expensive, why the season is so short in South Africa and a few extra tid bits that made the cherry picking experience that much more worth while.
This is what I remember from his talk:
- The cherry tree grows best in climates that are cold for longer periods of time. Thus the explanation why our season is so short because of our long summers and winters that get cold but not for long enough. (I don’t think I wouldn’t wish that away personally)
- The best cherries to pick are the ones that are exposed to the sun the most – so the ones at the top. Or if you’re short and don’t have access to a ladder, take the time to look through the orchard for a tree that is fairly stunted and closer to the ground. (This happened to us at the end of our picking session – Murhpy’s law that we find the perfect tree at the end when all of our punnet’s were ¾ full)
- I can’t plant my own cherry tree at home because the pips don’t work the same way as a vegetable would. They have to be grafted from an existed plant and then nurtured from there.
- As a farmer, they have chosen to focus on the picking scheme because it’s more lucrative for them financially. This would be because the stores require that the cherry be picked with the stalk on it. This proved to a bit more difficult to do than you’d think. This saves the farmer a whole headache of labour by getting us to pick our own.
- If you don’t want to go through the effort of picking, you can buy boxes of cherries straight from them…….. I don’t know about driving all that way just to pick up a box.
- Another tidbit, that had nothing to do with cherries. The reason why berries are so horribly expensive is because they are hand picked and also because they can only be touched once. They go straight from berry bush to punnet. Wholesalers and retailers don’t want bruised or ugly looking berries and this is the only way to make sure it’s done right. Hectic right? I have a greater appreciation for the raspberries, blackberries and youngberries that I observe on the shelf (I don’t buy them often because of their price and my little vacuum cleaners at home)
If you look into my sunglasses reflection, you’ll see my kids and their cousins.
Now that you know what I know about cherry picking…… what do you do with 4kg’s of cherries? They’re the worst to make jam with because they don’t thicken as easily as other berries. So……. I set out to make cherry ice cream.
I’ve made a batch and will taste it before I post this online. I’m really hoping it’s worked well.
I must admit though, that removing the pips is messy and labour intensive as well. I don’t have a cherry pip remover thingy majig – so I decided that I don’t care if they’re obliterated after attempting to follow a youtube vid on removing cherry pips with a paper clip. They’re going to be blitzed anyway-right? So I had me some pip removing therapy. It was both satisfying and productive. Sticky, but productive.
Tasted the ice cream – it’s ok… needs a bit of work. More like a sorbet creamy kind of vibe. But it’s good for an afternoon snack without regret.