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Sour cherries

I got some really small sour cherries at Berkeley Bowl West last week and made a cherry pie, which was fantastic, despite the half-hour I spent pitting the suckers . Asked around at BBW this morning and the only info I could get was that sour cherries aren't available right now. In past years they have shown up there very briefly and I suspect that I won't see them again this year.

So here's my question: where can one buy frozen sour cherries? I've looked around, albeit not obsessively, but the only cherries I've seen frozen are Bings. I grew up in Detroit, and we would harvest and freeze 20 or 30 quarts from our Montmorency tree each summer, which my mom would use to make pies throughout the year.

Berkeley Bowl West
920 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA

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  1. Previous sour cherry thread a few days ago suggested that dried are available at Rainbow. Would these work?

    1. Dried sour cherries also available at Trader Joe and elsewhere. A pie could be devised for them, but nothing resembling the traditional cherry pie. They make a good addition in pies made with other cherries. Montmorencies are relatively (to other cherries) easy to grow and are reputed to have some special health properties- something to do with arthritis. I've had no luck finding them at Monterey Market or elsewhere.

      1. A friend of mine said that she got some at the Civic Center Farmer's Market in SF last week.

        1. How much were they a pound and what type were they and do you know which farm it was from?


          2 Replies
          1. re: fredder

            I talked to a woman at the Frog Hollow stand at today's Berkeley farmers market and she said the climate is too hot here to grow sour cherries. So it may be that they simply aren't grown locally and that the occasional sour cherries at Berkeley Bowl and other places are shipped in from Michigan (which might account for the price). I still can't believe that they can't be bought frozen here, but no one seems to have found a source for frozen pie cherries.

            Berkeley Bowl
            2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

            1. re: TopoTail

              The Frog Hollow woman is, what's the word? Wrong? Yeah, that's it.

              I have grown Montmorency cherries in Santa Rosa and Davis -- centers of hotness well beyond Frog Hollow -- and got huge crops.

              Perhaps she meant: "Compared to sweet cherries, they are labor intensive to harvest, have a crappy shelf life, and limited market appeal, so we don't bother."

          2. Sour cherries available at B Bowl (East) today.
            Two-pound box for $5 or $6 as I recall.
            From Washington State.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Joel

              Thanks for the tip, Joel. The pie just came out of the oven.

            2. well,

              Thats a flat out bummer.

              I want local and organic.

              5 Replies
              1. re: fredder

                Kinda silly to want a specific ingredient to be local when it isn't really grown in this area. Isn't that like wanting a locally-grown pineapple?

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  I kind of thought the same thing, but if fredder is really serious about eating only local that's okay. But, damn, it would be tough to do. No coffee or tea, almost no spices, no flour, limited cheese, no tropical fruits, peanut butter, chocolate, etc., etc.

                  1. re: TopoTail

                    Locally Lagier grows them but they're probably done for the year.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Just saw fresh sour cherries at C.J. Olsen's down in Sunnyvale. They were in good condition--with leaves and stems attached, won't guarantee that they're local though. I believe sour cherries like a cold snap.

                      That said, Cook's Illustrated has a piece on making a pie out of sweet cherries, which you can get locally.

                      1. re: urbavore

                        Just bought 2lbs of fresh sour cherries at Olsen's. They're labeled "Royal Dark Tart" and are grown in WA.

              2. I just saw "tart" cherries at the Whole Foods in Cupertino for $9.99 for 2 pounds. They are from Washington State. Does anyone know if these can be substituted for sour cherries in a pie so that the pie will taste the same? I guess I can try.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Mari

                  Attempting recall of my youth long ago in Michigan where Montmorency cherries are an important crop, I believe they were usually referred to as "tart" rather than "sour". Perhaps my first chowhoundish experience was being taken as a 10 year old to pick buckets of them which my mother then made into a pie. Still the best thing I have ever eaten.

                  1. re: Mari

                    Same thing. Tart is a less negative sounding descriptor for not-sweet than sour.

                  2. Today the Bowl (East) had two kinds of sour cherries, each in a two-pound pack: One at $7 from Washington State, and one from California at $9 (as I recall). They looked like different varieties.
                    There has been some talk of "pie" in this thread. Sadly, I have not been invited for a slice.

                    1. Sour Cherries ARE grown locally - I pick them annually in Brentwood at this farm: http://www.brentwoodfruit.com/ They are a great family farm with many fabulous annual fruits.

                      The cherries are wonderful, but only last 2 weeks. I'm guessing the one's that are out for sale now have been refrigerated/shipped in. Best bet is to pick them and can/freeze them yourself to enjoy year round!

                      1. At Europa Express in the Outer Richmond (on 48 nr. Balboa) they had some today - 2 quart box called Royal Dark Tart for $6. Beautiful deep color and yes, sour.

                        Europa Express
                        1342 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: saffrongold

                          But are those true sour cherries? Not just cherries that happen to be sour? Got mine from Lagier in the small window they were available. Sour cherries absolutely grow around here. Don't know what the person from Frog Hollow was talking about.

                          1. re: mrs bacon

                            They were called Royal Dark Tart and sold in a Russian grocery store, and I get the feeling this place would not suffer impostors, but I couldn't swear by it.

                        2. Fresh sour cherries are still at CJ Olsen's in Sunnyvale as of yesterday. Just saw really large jars of sour cherries as Richmond Costco today.

                          1. Balaton (tart) Cherries at BBE in 2 pound clamshell $7.89. Packed with leaves still on from Washington.