Opening Day for Cherries

. 4 min read

I’ve never been a sports fan. I’d rather have twelve root canals than have to suffer through a football game. Going tailgaiting is my idea of hell.

Maybe this is why I didn’t get along so well with certain boyfriends I had in the past. Their lives completely revolved around sports. They breathlessly awaited Opening Day of baseball season, were glued to ESPN TV during basketball season, and then seemingly out of nowhere it would be football season. Which, to my horror, led right into back into baseball season again.

To me, it’s an endless wheel of nonsense. Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill, watching it roll back down again, only to push it back up again — for eternity.

This is one of the reasons I was so happy to find Seth, who confided to me on our first date that everything he knew about football you could fit in a thimble. He said he bought a copy of Football for Dummies so he could talk sports at work, but he never could get past the first few pages. I think that was the very moment I fell in love with him.

Sometimes I wonder if sports are an artificial way to satisfy a natural hunger to stay in touch with the seasons. We’re all excited for the first flowers in spring, the first firefly of summer, the first brisk autumn day when we buy new pencils for school and pull out our sweaters and wool socks. Even here in Southern California, though the seasonal shifts are less exaggerated, we do appreciate and look forward to warm summer days and cool and rainy winter nights. We gather around the water cooler to discuss the fall Santa Ana winds, and we bring bags full of avocados or Meyer lemons from backyard trees to our office mates or friends.

A century ago, we lived closer to the land and we were in tune with the seasons. We farmed and grew vegetables and we celebrated the planting season and the harvest. Families and neighbors spent weekends making hay, building barns, and canning and preserving. Now instead of doing these things which really do foster a sense of community and togetherness, we sit in front of the TV, watching football and eating storebought pies laden with industrial waste products marketed as food innovations: Crisco and high-fructose corn syrup. (Is it any wonder Americans got so fat?)

Perhaps this is a reason people get so fanatical about sports: we are out of touch with the seasons. We feel disconnected from the land — the very thing that supports and sustains us. We feel a sense of loss — and we feel powerless.

This Saturday was my Opening Day. I saw (and promptly bought and ate) the first cherries this weekend at our farmer’s market in Santa Monica. Cherries are my very favorite fruit, with peaches running a distant second. There is nothing like homemade cherry pie with vanilla ice cream. A warm peach cobbler is pretty good, too.

I’ve been sipping my coffee this morning and looking at this website: PickYourOwn.org. I guess it was the cherries I bought at the farmer’s market yesterday. Or maybe it was the blood orange marmalade I picked up. I really want to learn to make marmalade.

I’ve been wanting to try canning and preserving for years. I remember when we went to Tuscany a few years ago. We stayed in a bed and breakfast and took Italian cooking classes, went wine tasting and truffle hunting with a real truffle hunter and his truffle hunting dogs. The family that ran the B&B canned all their own tomatoes each year — and the tomatoes would last them all year long.

I always grow my own tomatoes but I’ve never canned them. But I think I’m going to this year. If you don’t have a garden, you can go to a You Pick farm and get very cheap prices on produce.

Click here to search for a You Pick farm near you.

Click here to read how to do canning, drying, freezing and preserving.

Here are some typical U.S. dates for a few common crops (the South will be the earlier end, and the North, the latter):

  • March – April: Asparagus
  • May-June: strawberries
  • June- July: cherries
  • June-August: blueberries, blackberries
  • July-September: peaches, figs, tomatoes, green beans
  • July-October: raspberries
  • August – figs, fall raspberries start, early apples
  • September-October: apples and grapes
  • October: late apples, pumpkins
  • December: Christmas trees

We are so lucky to live in Southern California. We have fresh local tomatoes almost all year long. There are only about two months in the winter when they are not at the farmer’s markets. But no matter where you live, we are entering the season for picking, pickling and preserving.

When trying to decide what to put up, it’s a good idea to consider what your family eats most often and what’s expensive and/or hard-to-find during the winter months.

I’m planning on going cherry picking in the next few weeks. I’ll pit them and freeze them so we can have cherry pies and cherry reduction sauce (with roast duck) all year long. Think I’ll make some cherry preserves, too. And I’ll use my dehydrator to make dried cherries to top granola and fil mjolk, or to put in winter salads with crispy nuts.

I’m also excited to make lacto-fermented pickles and lots and lots of pesto.

Photo credit: Silkegb on Flickr