cherry picking

You might know that we ventured “up north” a few weeks ago…that would be the northern Michigan area.  We spent some time in Traverse City, Leland, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs.  Such a beautiful area…there were times I forgot that we had just traveled one state to the north!

If you know anything about Traverse City, you know it is the “cherry capital of the world.”  From cherry salsa and cherry jam to hard cherry cider and granola with dried cherries, you will discover cherry products everywhere you look in Traverse City!

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With cherries on my mind, I thought it might be fun to actually go to an orchard and pick some of the red, tart fruit.  We did just that when we stopped at the King Orchards in Central Lake, MI on our way home.

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Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, peaches…we’ve picked them all before, but never cherries.  We had a great time, and we learned a few things along the way.

We started by picking the sweet cherries, which were not as I expected.  They are much darker in color, whereas the tart cherries are bright red.  I would have thought the opposite to be true about the colors of the tart/sweet varieties.

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The orchard had ladders scattered among the trees, in case you couldn’t reach those higher branches.  However, climbing the tree is much more fun!

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Next, we moved to the part of the orchard where the trees with tart cherries grew.

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We decided that we like cherry picking because we don’t need to kneel or bend down…

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The final stop was the cherry pitter…who knew there was such a machine!  We put the cherries in water at the bottom of the pitter, and then scooped out any stems, leaves, and bad cherries.

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The machine was turned on, and the cherries made their way to the top of the pitter…row by row.

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Once they reached the top, the pits were poked out of the fruit with small metal points.

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The pits went into a trash compartment of the machine, and the now-pitted cherries dropped down onto the conveyor belt to be bagged for transporting home.

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I’m sure I didn’t accurately describe the process of pitting the cherries, but I am SO grateful that we did this!  After arriving home with 40 plus pounds of cherries, I can’t imagine removing all those pits by hand!

Now you ask…what did I do with all those cherries?

Check back later this week, as I’ll be sharing one of my favorite cherry recipes…

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