Cherry Season is one of my favorite times of year to go home to The Okanagan Valley where I grew up in Oliver B.C. My dad has an orchard with Cherry Tree’s and Italian Plumbs. Cherries are ready around the last two weeks of June and first week of July. Ken and I arrived on the 22nd and they were just starting to turn pink. By the time Kellie and Kyle came that following weekend, they were getting redder every day.
I’ve gone home with Kellie to her hometown of Albermarle, North Carolina, twice. Met all her Aunts and friends she calls family. All wonderful people. I was so excited that Kellie and Kyle were able to take some time off on their Birthday week (Kyle June 26th and Kellie June 28th) and come to my neck of the woods. Ken and I were happy to have a little break from our Huck & Lilly tour. We all had a great time with my mom and dad and they met the great peeps who work at my dad’s autobody shop along with my friends Nikki & Rex and their four kids. The most relaxing part of the trip for me was picking, canning and juicing cherries. Oh, and watching Kellie do puzzles as we all sat around and enjoyed the cool Canadian air.
My dad used to have more cherry trees, Bing, Van & Lambert, but he had to cut alot of them down since they were getting quite old, and it was more profitable to lease his land out to tomato farmers… (now tomato season is a whole other blog!).
The Lambert Cherry variety have been one of the main types of cherries grown in the Okanagan, historically. The fruit is a beautiful deep ruby red color, and has a semi sweet flavor. Lambert cherries are usually available around the middle of July, but this year they were ready by the end of June. Lamberts are excellent for out-of-hand eating as well as cooking and baking.
The Van Cherry is another popular cherry fruit that has been grown in the Okanagan for a very long time. Van cherries are a medium size fruit, slightly smaller than a Bing, but are very firm black color, and they are a sweeter cherry. Van cherries are usually available in the Okanagan at the end of June or early July. They’re great for cherry cobbler! Maybe Ken will come up with the perfect Hillbilly Supper Club recipe using the cherries we canned!
We spent the day picking cherries to can and we also juiced a bunch. Drinking cherry juice may help fight belly fat, reduce muscle inflammation, alleviate osteoarthritis pain, minimize the risks of developing gout, decrease stroke risks and improve sleep quality. Cherry juice contains significant levels of anthocyanins, which give this fruit its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus it’s soooooooo yummy. Pure cherry juice is actually quite sweet, not tart like most people think.
After picking a bunch of buckets, Kellie sorts the good from the bad and I get going on pitting them. If you want to can cherries whole, you must pit them first using a cherry pitting tool.
After pitting the cherries, we put them into the jars, filling them with pure cherry juice.
The cherry juice is made by putting raw cherries in this big steamer pot. The cherries go in the top part, while a middle section catches the juice, and the boiling water is on the bottom layer, steaming the cherries on top. This takes all of the juice out of them.
After canning the cherries and juice, we flip them over to cool. This helps the lids seal tight. Making them last for years!
And later we have a nite-cap and help Kellie do puzzles with the bears and coyote’s looking down from the mountain.