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Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

by Jane Worthington-Roth

If you look out across our driveway, there’s a beautiful lil’ old sour cherry tree. When it blooms in the spring, the blossoms are only out for a few days, and we are like expectant parents hoping that there will be many pollinated blooms and adequate rain for the tree.

In years past we’ve left the tree on its own, hoping that we can win the battle with the birds and squirrels and at least share part of the harvest. This year, however, we’ve got a large group of squirrels (also known as a “dray”) around the house, so we have a lot of competition for the cherries. I don’t know where all the squirrels came from this year, but I am certain that they are at least remotely related to the Wallendas (of the Flying Wallendas) because their acrobatic feats are amazing to watch! That said, we’ve covered the bottom half of the tree with black mesh to hopefully save part of the crop for ourselves. So far, so good. I’ve already begun to harvest big bowls of cherries every couple of days.

Sour cherry trees are generally smaller than sweet cherry trees, as is the case with ours. We don’t know the heritage of the tree, but believe it’s a Montmorency variety, which is part of the lighter-red Amarelle variety, rather than the darker-red Morellos.

In the U.S., Montmorency sour cherry tries have been cultivated since at least the early 1900’s. It’s the most popular sour cherry in both the U.S. and Canada, and is most often used for cherry pies, jams and preserves. We’re not big pie eaters around here, and since the cupboard is already full of homemade jams, I’ve gone back to a recipe I’ve used many times in the past and made several batches of Sour Cherry Sauce. Nothing could be simpler to make or more versatile to use. For an easy summertime dessert, I pour warmed sour cherry sauce over lemon sorbet. In the morning I love to mix a couple of tablespoons of sour cherry sauce into my morning yogurt. But our favorite way to use the sauce is over venison tenderloin! It is the perfect combination of not too sweet – and just tart enough - to accent the gamey flavor of venison.

You can save the sauce in the fridge or put it in a couple plastic freezer bags and store it in the freezer for later use.

Sour Cherry Sauce

In a medium pot, combine:
3 cups sour cherries, rinsed and pitted
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

Bring to a low boil then simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a small dish, combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water. Add to the pot then simmer for an additional 2 minutes.

I usually blend about half of the cherries with an immersion blender. You want to keep a nice mixture of whole and crushed cherries.

"Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" was the title of a song by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, sung by Ethel Merman in the Broadway show “George White’s Scandals of 1931.”

Life is just a bowl of cherries; Don't make it serious; Life's too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so, But you can't take your dough when you go, go, go.
So keep repeating it's the berries; The strongest oak must fall.
The sweet things in life To you were just loaned, So how can you lose what you've never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries, So live and laugh at it all.