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Sour cherries

TopoTail Jul 3, 2010 02:14 PM

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

  1. wolfe Jul 3, 2010 02:48 PM

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

    1. o
      oldunc Jul 3, 2010 04:21 PM

      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. JasmineG Jul 4, 2010 12:56 AM

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

        1. f
          fredder Jul 4, 2010 10:10 PM

          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
            TopoTail Jul 6, 2010 05:16 PM

            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
              Gustavo Glenmorangie Jul 15, 2010 02:01 PM

              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. j
            Joel Jul 8, 2010 09:20 PM

            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
              TopoTail Jul 12, 2010 05:04 PM

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

            2. f
              fredder Jul 10, 2010 11:40 PM


              Thats a flat out bummer.

              I want local and organic.

              5 Replies
              1. re: fredder
                CarrieWas218 Jul 12, 2010 06:25 PM

                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
                  TopoTail Jul 12, 2010 11:21 PM

                  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
                    Melanie Wong Jul 13, 2010 12:25 AM

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

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      urbavore Jul 13, 2010 01:23 AM

                      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
                        emily Jul 14, 2010 11:11 AM

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

              2. Mari Jul 13, 2010 01:56 PM

                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
                  alfairfax Jul 14, 2010 07:20 AM

                  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
                    Gustavo Glenmorangie Jul 15, 2010 02:04 PM

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

                  2. j
                    Joel Jul 13, 2010 05:44 PM

                    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. m
                      mamasanh Jul 15, 2010 04:13 PM

                      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. s
                        saffrongold Jul 15, 2010 04:26 PM

                        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
                          mrs bacon Jul 16, 2010 12:29 PM

                          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
                            saffrongold Jul 16, 2010 04:07 PM

                            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. c
                          cakebaker Jul 16, 2010 03:45 PM

                          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. wolfe Jul 30, 2010 11:21 AM

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

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