I had plans to travel from central Texas to Michigan this summer, specifically to pick the kind of tart/sour cherries that can’t be purchased in a store. It turns out I need to be in Arkansas during the standard harvest time. I thought that I’d locate a growing orchard somewhere south of MI, in order to reduce drive time to the cherries and merge both trips. My search efforts have proven, um, fruitless…
Perhaps the teeming millions can enlighten me? I’m trying to find the closest location to north central AR where tart/sour cherries can be picked, or purchased fresh in season.
You could check out http://www.pickyourown.org/ - search by state. I didn’t see any listing for cherries in Arkansas, but a few in Missouri, like this one. WARNING: Comic Sans. Do farmers not have children to help them design web pages?
Unfortunately, cherries haven’t been a commercial crop in Arkansas for a number of decades. I have never seen Arkansas cherries for sale anywhere in the state. I suppose they might exist but if they do it’s in very small quantities.
The tart cherries are the only ones that make good pies.
My mother-in-law planted a pie cherry tree when she and my father-in-law bought their first house in 1958. My husband and I bought the house from them in 1982, and I froze cherries for pies every year until we moved in 2001. We ran out of frozen cherries three years later, and ever since I’ve searched for frozen tart cherries. A local food store had the Shur-Fine brand for a few years, but they stopped carrying them in 2009.
The canned cherries in water aren’t a bad substitute, but they don’t have the nice firm texture of the fresh or frozen ones. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’ll just have to plant my own cherry tree and wait.
As far as I know, you should be able to find pie cherries right in your local community. They are an early season cherry, ready at least a month before sweet cherries.
They aren’t grown and shipped commercially because they don’t hold up to shipping.
Try putting an ad on craigslist or someplace similar, looking for pie cherries. You’ll have to pick and process them yourselves out of folks yards. Lots of people have the trees for the blossoms, but let their cherries go to waste.
No food story here, St.Barthgirl… I simply plan to eat them - ridiculous amounts of them. No freezing, cooking, canning, or any other preparation that will destroy the singular sensory experience of perfectly ripe tart cherries fresh from the tree.
Not sure if this matters much to you, but just to let you know this year’s Michigan crop was terribly affected by the unseasonably warm winter…The trees bloomed too early and then died off with the next frost. Those that couldn’t be covered in time died. Almost all of the cherry crop was destroyed up here, many places (Cherry Republic, for example) had to import 90% of their cherries from Poland!
I hope it doesn’t happen again this summer…but this winter is already starting to act weird…
Here in Northern Virginia I searched long and hard to find them. I prefer Early Richmond but the only think available commecially is probably Montmorency. A lot depends on the weather. I have a source who gets them maybe 2 years out of 3 and can supply me with 40 or 50 pounds. The third year they don’t ripen correctly because of too much rain.
Last year I found a place near Winchester VA that has hundreds of pick-your-own trees. They all ripen the same week and they do not last once picked. Come on up to Virginia in late June. PM me and I’ll send you a link.