Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gleaning chokecherries....

Normally the title of this blog post would be: Picking Chokecherries or Harvesting Chokecherries, but this year it truly is a gleaning.  The birds took care of the big harvest this summer.  And you know, I've been doing my job, faithfully watching the bushes, waiting until the berries were just ripe enough to pick, but the doggone birds have gone and eaten them green!  Whaddayado?

As I was picking, I noticed the robins flitting around and pipping at me as if I was in their chokecherry patch.  The nerve.  Don't they know that *I* planted this row of bushes, watered them through a drought, and mowed between the rows?  I'll admit that I hoped that this row of trees and bushes would attract birds, but I didn't think they would rob me blind!  Perhaps next year they'll allow me to harvest if I promise a gleaning for them.   As I gleaned the few cherries left behind, I thought about the book of Ruth in the Bible -- how Naomi and Ruth would glean from the fields of Boaz.  I always thought, "Well, isn't that so kind of the land owner and the harvesters to leave something behind for the poor to glean," but since picking after the birds, I'm realizing that gleaning is not so easy nor productive.  For the same amount of time and effort it would have taken me to pick a whole gallon bucket of cherries, I have just a third bucket of them.  And you must know that chokecherries are not the size of a cherry at all, but more the size of a small blueberry.  They often grow wild in riparian areas on the prairies and the surrounding foothills, but mine were planted and tended by me.  Chokecherries are almost entirely filled with a pit so there is very little fruit.  That is why chokecherries are mainly juiced and used in jellies (not jams) and syrups.  This year my dad had plans for making chokecherry wine with my harvest, but I called him to say that he must look elsewhere for fruit since I had just a meager third of a bucket to contribute to the wine making.  Bah!

There is a winery nearby that produces The-Best-Ever chokecherry wine and I was really, really hoping Dad could get a good-do on a batch of wine this year to rival the Best-Ever.  He still might if the birds surrounding Hometown USA haven't gone to harvesting as early as my birds have.  I spied some nice-looking  chokecherries alongside the road as we went to the golf tourney this past weekend, but alas, there wasn't any time for picking since we were on a time budget.

The good news is that last year I actually harvested  my chokecherries and I still have a few quarts of juice left in the canning cupboard.  I'll set to work making chokecherry syrup -- my favorite -- at my convenience.  It's the wine making that has become the sad story, but I won't give up hope yet.  I intend to keep my eyes open as I travel around the area, looking for wild chokecherries -- fully-ripened, fully-cherried bushes -- and you can bet I'm going to be carrying a couple ice cream buckets in the car just in case! 

chokecherry syrup over pancakes


  1. Awww, sorry to hear about your chokecherries. Are the trees too big to cover partially with nets or something?

  2. I planted some chokecherry bushes out by the road in front of our place and have harvested very few cherries because the birds always get there first. But a couple of weeks ago my hubby saw our neighbor from across the road sneaking out of our bushes with an ice cream bucket! We live right on the city limits road, so people do seem to think they can help themselves to our chokecherries, wild plums and lilacs. Hmmm... I wonder what they'd do if I showed up in THEIR yard with an ice cream bucket?

  3. Sorry to hear this, Jody. The pictures of them are beautiful. I've never tasted them before but chokecherry wine sounds like something I might like. ~Leslie

  4. I hope someone will find cherries for the wine maker! I'll be over for pancakes, though!

  5. I suppose you could net them? That's what I do with my blueberry bushes cause otherwise I wouldn't even get one! The syrup sounds really really good!


  6. I know, the birds get EVERYTHING of my trees, grrr. Clarice

  7. I've been wanting to plant blueberries, but I suspect the birds would eat them all before we got a chance to pick a single one. Ah, but a little homemade blueberry syrup sure would be nice!



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