In honor of my new Farming in the Suburbs mission, I decided to harvest sour cherries from a tree in our backyard to make cobbler for both our family and the new neighbors next door.
We've lived in this house for over 4 years. And every single year, the birds get all the sour cherries off of our tree before we do. Partly, this is because I'm not all that protective of the cherries. They're sour after all, and I had no idea what to do with them. And partly, it's because the birds are so quick. Really, within 24 hours of the cherries turning red those suckers can clean the entire tree. This year, the planets aligned and they were ripe (or close enough to ripe for me to pick) on a Saturday when I didn't have much else planned.
So, I picked a bucketful of them and sat down with Jeff and Joey to pit them using straws and/or pastry tips to push out the seeds (they preferred the straws, I liked the pastry tip).
While we sat there for the eons it took to pit all these, we discussed the story of the Little Red Hen. Jeff did change the ending of the story so that she shared the bread anyway because that's a better Buddhist ending. My ending involved a rude hand gesture and scarfing the bread all by herself. I think we know who the better parent is.
We also talked about how we would have felt about all these sour cherries if we lived in Little-House-on-the-Prairie times. We would have been thrilled to have the opportunity to pick the tree clean (instead of leaving most for the birds as I did) and work together to make into pies and cobblers and cakes and probably jams. And another difference that Jeff pointed out was that they probably didn't have Oingo Boingo playing in the background.
Eventually, we found ourselves with over 4 pounds of pitted cherries, which I used a Cooks Illustrated recipe to turn into this…
I had found several recipes on the web using sour cherries, but, frankly, if we were going to go to all the work of picking and pitting the cherries, I wanted something with the best chance of turning out. And I trust Cooks Illustrated. I tell people all the time that I can't think of one of their recipes that I haven't loved. It does take a certain kind of person to enjoy making some of their more difficult recipes (precise might be one phrasing, anal-retentive might be another), but they are always worth it.
This recipe called for a cup of red wine, which made a super tasty cobbler. I really love the sweet of the sauce and the tart of the cherries. Plus it doesn't hurt that it's topped with buttermilk biscuits, which I adore.
Now that I know that sour cherries can be turned into this, I'll be investing in a cherry pitter and a taller ladder for next year.