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May Cherry Harvest – In Franceby David Earnshaw, May 2019
After a long and weary winter in the UK, what better activity to do, than book a trip to France. Just a weekend away is enough to recharge those feel-good batteries and even better to stay with friends in the south west of France when the cherries are ready to be harvested.
A standard mature cherry tree will generate an around 60-100 pint glasses of cherries a year. That’s a lot of cherry pie and vodka! The sugar content rises significantly in the last few days of ripening, so wait to harvest the fruit until it is completely red. When the fruit is ready, it will be firm and fully coloured. Sour cherries will come off the stem when they are ripe enough to be harvested, while sweet cherries should be tasted for maturity. Cherries will not ripen once picked from the tree, so be patient. Harvest as quickly as possible if rain is imminent, as rain will cause the cherries to split. And don’t forget to be a step ahead of the birds. Harvest cherries with the stem attached if you are not planning on using them right away. Be careful not to tear off the woody fruit spur, which continue to produce fruit each year. If, however, you are picking cherries for cooking or canning, they can just be pulled off, leaving the stem behind on the tree.
The biggest decision is what to use them for. We opted for cherry pies and cherry vodka – luckily for the latter, as they take 6 months to infuse with the vodka, we had some to taste from last year. Cheers