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Picking Cherries, And The Bright Summer Memories

My niece posted pictures she took while she was picking cherries with her dad. That evoked strong memories for me. We often went near Forestville to pick cherries.

When we moved to Hickory Heights there were a lot of cherry trees growing here. They did not produce much, but I usually got enough to at least make a pie. They were the sour variety– the kind used for pies. When we began to clean up the yard the cherry trees had to go. I was sorry to lose them, but that was just how it was.

I remember the lady who had charge of the picking where we went always wore a headband with cherries in it. That was the first place that we ever went picking. Later on, we went to another grower on the Forestville Road. I believe that was one of the Walker Farms.

That was such a nice place to pick. There was a large pond. We picked for a while, then had a picnic by the pond. The whole family used to pick cherries. The children liked to fish while we were there. Sometimes we made a kind of fishhook with a safety pin tied to the end of a stick. We never hurt the fish. We caught those little sunfish. We would catch them, then release them back into the pond.

Years ago my husband and I visited that same orchard. I wrote a feature for an agricultural publication. As I recall the whole family was assembled eating a meal. They invited us to eat with them but we had to get home to milk cows. We just took a few cherries with us.

Of course, the children ran around some as well. Children have a lot of energy to get rid of. When there was a baby, the baby went into the playpen to play. Everyone else was up a ladder picking cherries. I used to say that it was a good thing they did not weigh the children before they picked and after. They all ate a lot of cherries.

My father-in-law was something. He loved picking cherries. We often filled up the picnic coolers after we ate. The only down side of that was that they were not weighed so they had to estimate the weight when we checked out.

We always split our picking into sour and sweet. The sour ones went into pies and the sweet ones were to eat and to can. I loved the sweet ones. Those dark red cherries were so sweet. When we first started picking, they did not have a pitter for the sour cherries so we had to do that at home. What a nice addition it was when they added a pitter. Now our cherries were ready for pies.

We went picking nearly every year after the haying was done. When I was attending college in Fredonia, my mother, my daughter, and a friend went to the orchard to pick cherries to bring home. The friend was originally from Germany. We allowed her to take home the cherries that she picked. Her mother asked me if I had a cherry pitter. I did not so she gave me one that she brought from Germany. I used to use a paperclip to pit the cherries, but now that I had a pitter, I used that.

The next day was pie making day. I started early so I could finish before the heat of the day. We often had family meals together and of course, we all ate pie. Some of the sour cherries went into the freezer to have over the winter.

What a joy it was to have canned sweet cherries! You can buy canned cherries but they are not half as good as the ones you can yourself. I always canned them with a heavy syrup. In the winter I opened up a can of cherries and that was our fruit to accompany our meal.

I remember some years we bought fruit from Agway that was already frozen. It came kind of slushy so you could just refreeze it. We bought cherries and peaches. That was the easy way to get some fruit into the freezer.

Now, I buy cherry pie filling. It does not pay to freeze or can cherries any more. I do wish I had some sweet cherries though so I could can them. Now we just buy some and eat them right away.

I do not often do two weeks back to back with recipes, but when I saw those pictures in the orchard, I knew I had to reminisce. We worked hard when we picked and there was still work for the ladies the next day but it was certainly a lot of fun.

My recipe for this week is Black Forest Cake. I found this recipe at one of my volunteer spots when I was looking through a cookbook. When it is not busy you are looking for something to read. I purchased a Black Forest Cake to take to church one day and it went over well. This kind is certainly easy and it was delicious. We had it at our Fourth of July picnic.

Black Forest Cake

2 cans cherry pie filling

1 pkg. chocolate cake mix

§ c. chocolate chips (I used the mini ones)

§ c. melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9 cake pan. Spread pie filling in pan (I used a glass one). Top with cake mix right out of the box. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the cake mix. Pour melted butter over all being sure it is all moistened. Bake 30 – 35 minutes. I served it with ice cream, but whipped cream would be fine too. I scooped it out of the pan rather cut it into pieces. It made about 12 generous servings.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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