Growing up with a sour cherry tree

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When I was a little kid, our house had a sour cherry tree out beside the garage. My parents bought the house from Dad’s grandparents, who planted the tree in the 1970s. Its cherries were somewhat sparse from all the lingering birds and the tree itself was quite ugly, but it was “branchy” and good for climbing. I remember it looking like a skyscraper, but I was like 5, so it was probably little, by tree standards.

Dad used to back his pickup truck up to the tree so he and mom could stand in the bed and pick cherries. When they picked all they could reach, dad would climb it until he got every last ripe cherry. He would even shake the branches he couldn’t reach. “It’s raining cherries!” he would shout. That’s my dad for you.

cherries“Cherry Day” was always on a weekend. It meant that Grandma came over to watch us while mom and dad were busy picking. We helped empty mom and dad’s baskets when they were full, and helped Grandma rinse the cherries with the garden hose to get all the gross bird stuff off. We’d spread them out on beach towels to dry, then take them in to be canned. They usually canned all but enough to make two sour cherry pies; one for each of them. Mom and Dad sold that house and the sour cherry tree in 1986.

I honestly don’t remember much of that story, but mom has been telling it that way for years, so I’ll take her word for it.

About 6 or 7 years ago, mom and I were in the neighborhood so we decided to drive by the old house and see what the new owners had done to it over the years. To our surprise, the cherry tree was gone. Mom was in shock. She sucked air and everything.

“That was the best tree!” she said, almost with a tear in her eye. She made it seem as if a member of the family had been lost. To this day, when she is reminded of the tree, the house, or even if we see cherries for sale, she says something to the effect of, “I still can’t believe the old tree is gone.” Then she sniffs, shakes her head and wipes away a tear. Lol.

I’ve offered several times to plant another sour cherry tree at my parents’ house, but mom doesn’t want another one. I’m sure dad would love it, but mom would be the one taking care of it, so she kindly declines. My brother and his wife have talked about planting one in their yard this year. I’m sure it’s for mom and dad.

Go make something awesome,
Jen

Mom’s Old Fashioned Sour Cherry Pie

FILLING

  • About 3-4 cups of fresh sour cherries, rinsed and drained well
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup flour

CRUST

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1-1/4 cups shortening
  • Pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To make the filling: Remove the pits from cherries and place in large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar, and using a large spoon, toss well to coat cherries. Set aside.
  4. Next, prepare the crust. In a bowl, beat egg with rotary beater. Beat in vinegar and milk, set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift 3 cups flour with salt; add shortening, blend thoroughly.
  6. Combine with egg mixture. Divide dough in half, rolling each on a flat, floured surface.
  7. Prepare bottom crust in a 9” pie pan, set aside.
  8. To complete the filling, add 1 cup flour to the cherry mixture and toss lightly, then add mixture to the prepared pie crust. Place remaining crust on top, pinching crusts together. Using a knife, cut several slits in the top to vent.
  9. Bake pie 45-60 minutes, until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown.

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