Cherry harvest and recipe

Stewed Cherry fruit
A kind of desert made from our cherry crop.

In general
It is very special that in our orchard on the sour soil of the area “the Krimpenerwaard” in the Netherlands, a cherry tree brings forth plenty of fruit. Usually fruit trees grow on clay-soil. As we find along the rivers. The kind of soil is affecting the taste. The original area where Cherry trees were grown was along the “Kromme Rijn” in the centre of the Netherlands.

Nowadays  most fruit trees are grown in “the Betuwe”, a area in Hollandl between the big rivers. Because of the tremendous amount of work in harvesting the cherries from the high trees, there was a lack of interest for this fruit farming during the years 1960 till 1995. Nowadays they have development and grown small trees ans also better ways to protect the trees against the birds and also the development smaller trees, as well as a growing market for organic grown cherries against birds. Because of this development there is more interest in investing in this kind of fruit farming.

In foreign countries we find cherry farming in Hanford, California. Not too long ago they also started there organic growing of cherries. Thanks to new methods for preserving they can cope with the increasing demand for cherries. In Europe we find cherry farming in Switzerland, Italy, France, south eastern Europe, west of Asia and even in a small village in South Africa named Imperani near the border with Lesotho. In spring you  recognize the flowering cherry tree as a beautiful white and round silhouette of the mostly solitary growing tree.

About cherry harvesting
The enormous harvest that my husband and I got this summer of 2011 has impressed me very much. As a young child I was aware, that we receive the yield of the field from our Creator and through His grace. Therefore before we eat the fruit we say the words of thanks: “Blessed are You, King of the universe, Who creates fruit of the tree” in Hebrew (phonetic): “Baruch ata Adonai Elohainu melech haólam borai pre ha’etz”.

From my parents I learned that if the weather situation is so difficult that there is nearly no possibility to harvest the crop, because of the amount of rain, we shall not be grumpy. Everything will turn ok. In other times we long for rain. Once after a very dry period, all the just sowed sugarbeetseed was blown away from the field through a spring storm. It even landed on the window sill in the living room of the farm. Still my dad kept confidence and sowed again expensive bought sugarbeet seed.

These experiences help us to know our dependence. So it brings much pleasure to enjoy others through sharing the harvest. Moreover, I have great appreciation of the workers who collect the crop. Special in this time my gratitude goes to my husband, who did the tough job of picking, grading, stoning, pasteurizing and/or making cherries into jam.  During three weeks there went about 150 kg of cherries through his hands. I collected the less qualified cherries, processed them into compote and developed my own recipe. And together with others we ate a lot of fresh cherries!

Recipe of my cherry compote / stewed cherries
Ingredients: 1 kg / 2.2 lbs  Cherries, without stalk, well rinsed, stoned and cut in halves.
75 gr. / 1/3 cup Brown sugar or fine cane sugar
1 dl / 7 tbsp fresh orange juice
Juice from ½ a small lemon1 ½ tbsp
Maizena / cornstarch
2-3 tbsp water

Put all the ingredients – except the maizena and water – together in a large pan. Bring to cook and led it slowly cook for 5 minutes. Then mix the maizena with the 2-3 tbsp of water. (I like it more to use cherry juice, cooled down from the cooked amount of cherries). Add this mixture to the cooking cherries; stir very well under keeping cooking for 1-2 minutes. Let it cool down.  It’s possible to freeze this compote.

J. Spijker-Kort