Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cherry blossoms

When it comes to cherries, my favorite way to eat them is fresh, straight off the tree. The best place to eat cherries is standing next to the tree, so you can eat the fruit within seconds of picking it.

You can't get food much fresher than that!

This small white blossom is only about 1.5" in diameter. It bloomed on my parents' cherry tree, a tree that produces small, tart cherries. When I was growing up, we had a huge cherry tree that was sadly toppled by a strong thunderstorm. This tree is its replacement, and it's doing well, though it's definitely an exercise in patience while we all wait for it to grow. It currently produces enough cherries for only about one cherry crisp each year.

Tart cherries are harder to find in stores than sweet or Bing cherries, because they aren't cultivated as often and tend to be more delicate and not do as well in transit. As a result, many people have probably never had tart cherries—but there's really nothing like them.

In the Midwest, Michigan is known for producing tart cherries. Traverse City, where Mom and I vacationed last summer, has an annual Cherry Festival that attracts thousands of visitors. The cherries were just starting to ripen when we were there (and we specifically skipped town before the festival craziness), so we were a week or two too early to try fresh, local Michigan cherries.

We weren't too early—or too late—for the good wine, though! I'll just have to make a trip back to catch cherry season again in the future.

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