MSP Fresh Tart Cherries-where??!
So there I was at the Saint Paul Farmer's Market. Behold! The cherry lady!! I sidle up.
Got any tart cherries, I ask?
Our cool Minnesota spring caused a major cherry crop failure, sez she. We. Got. Squat.
Oh, unhappy day!
True, probably more for her than me, but still...
Anybody have a source in town for fresh tart cherries? Rumor has it that Washington state has had a good cherry year. I have Maraschino cherries to put up and sorbet to make!
Try St. Paul Farmers' Market one more time. In the middle aisle, closer to 4th and 5th, on the right-hand side facing 4th, is a blond guy who I've always purchase my tart cherries from. I have not been able to get there this year, however (always been out of town). Early in the year, he sells honey and some other fruits. But he has been my go to source year in and year out.
I also have a friend who has some tart cherry trees on his property. I'll e-mail and ask how his trees did this year and report back. But I seem to recall him saying that his trees "shut down" overy three years or so.
I know strawberries were late this year due to cold. Maybe cherries as well???
If you order out of state, look to Michigan.
The Door County cherries I bought at the Mississippi Market at Randolph and Fairview (assuming they're part of the same batch) were dark and sweet. Not even close to sour/tart. Tru tart cherries are almost impossible to eat without cooking and adding sugar.
BTW, Queen Anne (golden) Door County cherries are also available at Mississippi Market.
I am definitely going to check these St. Paul farmers market sources and remember them for next year.
The problem with sour cherries is that they don't keep well. (Or so I understand.) So they usually don't ship from long distances and you are usually able to just get them frozen. So fresh ones from the west coast may not be an option.
At the Mississippi Market store on Selby, I saw two kinds of cherries from Door County. There were dark ones. I sampled those and they were sweet ones. There was also a bin of bright red ones. Those looked like the sour ones to me.
Maybe that's why the MM at Randolph and Fairview is moving -- not as big as the one at Selby and Dale. No sour ones at the former. Assumed that MM would offer the same at both locations, but looks like that's not the case.
You are right that they don't ship well fresh. But frozen is okay. When I buy fresh, I spend the rest of the morning pitting and then I freeze them for future use. A good substitute is jarred Morello cherries.
I was curious because the bright red ones I saw there looked like sour cherries so I called MM and learned that indeed they were sweet cherries.
Another place to check if you don't mind paying for shipping is Earthy.com. You can preorder cherries from them. They have sweet ones (which began shipping on July 17) and what they call tart cherries which they say will start shipping on August 4. Apparently this is a different variety of tart cherry called Balaton from Hungary that is less tart than the traditional ones. I suspect they are still plenty tart but that you would just be using less sugar with them.
Anyway, you may want to check with them. Apparently you have to preorder to get them from Earthy.com.
Our Story So Far:
1.) I thoroughly tossed the Saint Paul Farmer's Market on Sunday, to no avail. I have seen (and bought from) the blond gent. No sign of him on Sunday. It is possible that he isn't there on Sundays, but that is usually when I am there, so I don't think that he was there.
2.) Both Mississippi Markets don't seem to have what I need. Though the Selby store had some Meyer Lemons, leading me to thoughts of Meyer Lemon Sidecars.
3.) Whole Foods Fairview, nothing.
4.) BeyerLund's has nothing, but promised to look around and call. If they do call, that would probably qualify as a miracle, since this otherwise marks the third time in a row that ByerLund's has claimed that they'll call me about something and I've never heard from them again.
5.) My sweetie is coming in from Seattle tomorrow, and has located frozen tart cherries there, but none fresh. Ergo, she'll be bringing some with her, assuming that something named after an explosive can get through the security cordon that guard our skies.
6.) She and I'll be roadtripping to Michigan next month, and we may continue the Quest on that side of the Lake.
7.) I haven't yet tried the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. I may this weekend. Thanks for that suggestion.
8.) Tart cherries are indeed just that, and you generally wouldn't want to eat them straight, without some form of sweetening. You'll get a pretty good pucker if you do.
9.) My experience has been that we only have a couple week window here in the Cities. Even allowing for the cold spring, that window is sliding shut. I have a batch from last year (preserved in cognac-an experiment-a waste of good cognac) dated 25 July, which is what I base this on.
10.) The jarred Morello cherries that I have acquired from Trader Joe's have been only alright, and not a good substitute in my case, but that is, of course, a matter of individual taste, and I'm grateful for the reminder.
Thank you all for the help so far. I find anything, I'll report back!
I have some frozen ones left over from last season, but only enough to make a sauce/salsa. Nothing for a pie or cobbler, sadly.
Re: Michigan, the season may be on the tail end, but good luck to you.
Re: blond gent, I've only been to the market on Saturdays. Always see him there in the same spot.
We're on the same quest.
I've ordered my tart cherries for the past 4 years from Afton Orchard, but their Michigan source wasn't supplying this year. I've not been able to find any fresh local, anywhere. Have been on most of the same wild goose chases as you have.
King's Orchard in Michigan will ship their fresh Montmorencies, but only overnight. And the shipping cost alone is $70 for 10 lbs. When I spoke to the woman at the orchard she said they'd start shipping frozen via 2-day air (so at least a bit cheaper) in November.
Lucky you...to have friend with friends with cherries!
Morellos really aren't a decent substitute. Any cherries canned won't be as good as fresh, but water-canned will do in a pinch. For those of you who are curious, you should be able to find water packed sour cherries (also sometimes called "pie cherries") in local markets. Make sure they're Montmorency. Or, you can order direct from Kings; 12 15-oz. cans for $27; 24 cans for $50.
In the meantime, I'm hording the few bags of frozen sours and jars of maraschino and pickled cherries left from what I put up last year.