The volunteer sunflower-that-is-not-a-lemon-cucumber is blooming! This one opened in such a fun way, too!
(Note to self: plant lots of sunflowers next year.)
A tomato update: getting redder!
And here's our big project for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It's cherry time! This is 3/4 of our harvest.
For the past three (four?) years, I have rented a tree in an orchard over across the valley. I pay the owner at the beginning of the summer, he maintains the trees and does all the upkeep, and I show up when the cherries are ripe and pick the entire tree. It's an organic orchard and the cherries are delicious.
My usual tree's production has been declining, so this year he gave me two trees. Emma and I picked them last night, and got 65 pounds of cherries in three hours work. Having a fearless pre-teen works out very well for getting the cherries at the top- I'm not a fan of tall ladders, so this year I sent her up instead! She had a blast and I didn't have to climb up the tallest ladder.
Today, we spent the evening washing, sorting, and pitting. We had quite the production line going out back. I washed the cherries, Emma picked them over to get out the bad ones and
stems, I ran the pitter and spread them on the dehydrator trays, and Emma
carried them in to the dehydrator.
I got that cherry pitter last year, a Norpro Deluxe Cherry Pitter with suction base, and it's seriously one of the best kitchen gadgets ever. It needs a smooth surface to suction on to though, and my folding table is
textured, so I just used a marble pastry board. It also sticks fine to
my kitchen counter, but I'd rather keep the juice splatters outside. Even if it does only get used a couple times a year, I'm entirely willing to have it taking up space the rest of the time. It's great for pitting large quantities of cherries.
We pitted slightly more than half the cherries tonight, about 35 pounds, in ONE HOUR.
That 35 pounds filled all nine trays of my Excaliber dehydrator, and it's humming away happily tonight.
We washed and sorted the rest of the cherries, and they're ready to pit tomorrow. I haven't decided what I'm doing with them yet. I may can some plain, or can some as pie filling, or just freeze them. Or some of each- I do have about 30 pounds left! My freezer space is somewhat limited at the moment, though, so canning most of the rest may be a better option.