Field Trip: Tart Cherry Picking

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Cherry PickingFeature Fridays: Field Trip!

Nothing says summer like fresh tart cherry pie filling in a fresh, home-baked pie. Rose Levy Beranbaum once wrote, “There is something about sour cherries. Their tart flavor is as pure and joyful as the piercingly clear song of a cardinal.” I couldn’t agree more. When July rolls around, I need my fresh tart cherry fix. So, what’s a girl to do? Go picking for fresh tart cherries, of course!

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As I mentioned in my last post, most of you know that I just adore cherries—especially sour or tart cherries. And, since last year was a cherry drought, I was ecstatic with early reports this past spring that 2013 was looking to be a banner year for tart cherry crops. Yay, for the farmers! And, I was eagerly anticipating going cherry picking and bringing home the loot!

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Fortunately, one of the benefits of living here in Indiana, the sleepy Midwest, is the close proximity of beautiful orchards brimming over with fresh fruit for the pickin’s. As I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend The Big Lug and I went cherry picking—that is, cherry picking for tart (sour) “Meteor” cherries. We didn’t travel far to reach Stuckey Farm in Sheridan, Indiana. The drive is only 30 minutes away from our home.

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The place has a charming and inviting exterior and is adorbs on the inside, all decked out in red and white. (I love the cherry red floors!) Stuckey Farm also grows juicy peaches and they sell fresh produce, frozen ready-to-bake pies (we bought a peach one just for fun) and enough jams and jellies to impress a King and Queen. And, the best part? They offer U-Pick for tart cherries! We are extremely lucky. Sigh.

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My adoration for tart cherries runs deep. I cannot begin to tell you how exciting cherry picking is for me as a baker. Tart cherries make my heart sing and go pitter-pat. Their color is almost an unearthly gorgeous red hue when the sun catches them. Their illumination is pure delight to see in person. They just dazzle me.

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While plucking the little red orbs and inserting them into our pails, in the hot summer July sun, the promise of what they will bring in the kitchen is akin to moonlight and a good martini. (Yes, I have been watching and listening to the film Moonstruck while working on this post. I truly am a hopeless romantic! What are you going to do with me?) All I can say is those who love and adore cherries must be very passionate people. True love runs deep.

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Cherries have a way of evoking pleasant thoughts. Intoxicating pleasant thoughts. Oh my. I can eat them fresh, uncooked and unsweetened like there’s no tomorrow. Pit? What pit? Who cares. Pits are just a minor thing with me. More than any other berry or fruit, tart cherries make my skirt fly up!

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Meanwhile, I am brimming over with excitement to share my favorite homemade tart cherry pie filling recipe with y’all, Mom’s Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling. It truly is like no other cherry pie filling and it is a vintage recipe. Having grown up in Michigan, we were spoiled with tart cherries each and every summer season. After all, Traverse City, Michigan is The Cherry Capital of the World! And, a good tart cherry pie was a part of every Michigan home baker’s repertoire—to include mom. What I love best about my mom’s recipe (which I have tweaked over the years), is that it is all-natural. One need not even add artificial red food coloring to bring about a pleasing red tart cherry hue. But, I digress. More on cherry pie filling soon! I promise.

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Tart cherries. Their bouquet is intoxicating to me and I can only imagine that it must be how cats feel when they catch a whiff of catnip. Swoon! Going cherry picking was pure bliss. Well, almost. I gave you a little teaser in my last post. All I can say is take a good gander at all the photos in this post. See a significantly dark photo? No, it’s not chiaroscuro photography, with a high contrast between light and dark. It’s. Just. Dark. I won’t mention names, but one of us took a spill off our ladder when trying to capture a gorgeous shot in the cherry trees! Yes, our camera decided to capture that moment for us. Ha!

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In closing, I hope you have enjoyed viewing all the purrrty photos of our little field trip—a first to be featured here on the blog!

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And, yes. This post was supposed to go live on Friday as part of Wicked Good Kitchen’s new Feature Fridays. However, I pushed myself like mad last week working on paleo recipes for the cookbook I’m writing and I probably spent more time at Pinterest than I should have. (Who doesn’t? Ha!) But, Pinterest is a nice break from writing and one I need often to refresh my thoughts.

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However, what happened was I got severely behind by making a day of picking cherries last weekend, then not getting my Blueberry-Raspberry Buckle baked on Sunday as originally planned because I was busy editing all the photos from our visit to Stuckey Farm as well as processing all those fresh cherries before they had a chance to go bad. (Honestly, it happens so fast!) Routinely, I underestimate how long certain tasks take me.

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Then, early on Friday morning, when I went to assemble my post and enter it into WordPress, I noticed that I had not resized the photos to the correct size. Sigh. (When I was working on those photos I was overtired. Not myself. I used the correct number of pixels, but for the length vs. the width! My program remembers the setting from the previous image, so I kept using it. On all the vertical photos!) So, I figured I would join the Friday morning party of leaving all sorts of blog love to my favorite bloggers and then publish the post later in the afternoon. Easy peasy, right? No. Go. Sigh (again).

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My sweet little Bombay girl kitty had to visit the vet. (If you’d like to see our gorgeous fur babies, visit our Pets page to meet them.) Ugh. The poor thing is suffering from “cherry eye”. I kid you not. That is exactly what the condition is called. Ironic, eh? It has been an intermittent problem that has worsened. It is most prominent in dogs but also with the Burmese cat. The Bombay is part Burmese and part black American Shorthair. Her third kitty eyelid prolapses (the gland pops out) and she itches it which causes irritation, redness and swelling. The veterinarian world terms the condition “cherry eye” because the gland in the soft tissue resembles the shape of a cherry pit. The poor baby needs to have it sutured down and our next step is to consult with a veterinarian ophthalmologist.

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So, please bear with me. Between shopping for a new laptop (switching from PC to Mac this Friday, yay!) as well as learning all about my new camera and lens, on top of caring for my sweet baby with vet visits, I’ve been stretched a little thin. I have been in major “mama mode”, too, making sure my sweet girl knows she’s loved. Her little personality needs demands pampering, too. I wish you could all meet her in person. She’s the sweetest thang. Sassy as all get out with a mouth on her, too! She’s a spitfire and will tell you like it is. “Chin music” is her first language and she talks back often. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

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Thank you, my friends! You have been so supportive of me and my baby blog during my first year, and I cannot express enough my heartfelt and sincere gratitude. Y’all ROCK!



About Stacy

Stacy Bryce is a recipe developer and member of the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). Her passion is developing original conventional baking recipes as well as special diet recipes to include dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free. You can follow Stacy at Pinterest.


  1. I’ve been reading so many fabulous posts about fruit picking – they are making me so jealous! 🙂 Enjoy those beautiful cherries!
    Jennifer @ Not Your Momma’s Cookie recently posted…Summer Picnic Party: Ant Attack Cupcakes (and a Giveaway!)My Profile

  2. Oh my gosh, I love Stucky Farm! Hoosier pride (: The first time I picked sour cherries, I was so confused about why they weren’t sweet, but I’ve definitely learned to love them!
    Caroline @ Pass the Cocoa recently posted…Chocolate Raspberry MacaronsMy Profile

    • “Hoosier Pride”, indeed, Caroline! I’m so glad you’ve learned to love tart cherries. They rock my cherry loving world! xo

  3. Oh, we enjoy cherry picking so much that we have no clue what to do with 17 bags filled with goodness.
    You would’ve have freaked out in the jam section right?
    Ash-foodfashionparty recently posted…YUCCA and Red Quinoa Fritters with Saffron AioliMy Profile

    • Asha, so glad you have an appreciation for cherry picking as well. Amazing all that you can do with them. Think an entire freezer dedicated just to off-season tart cherry storage is what we really need! Happy baking, girl!

  4. I love your farm shop you posted.. I’m jealous, I miss shops like that! These cherries look amazing, I can only imagine how tasty they are freshly picked.. I would make some yummy cherry jam!
    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl recently posted…First Watermelon Harvest of the SeasonMy Profile

    • Thank you, Pamela! We are very fortunate to have such a lovely tart cherry orchard so close to home. Thanks for stopping by, girl! xo

  5. I am reminded of the many seasons I spent with my children in orchards and fields picking cherries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Thanks for the memories Stacey!

    I hear you on the woes of getting this work done; I’ve just spent the entire day moving my site to a new server to handle the increased traffic. Funny…that little bit of revenue from the work of increasing traffic is now going to the host company. NO fair!! 🙂

    Let’s hope it all looks better in the morning! XOXO Barb
    Barbara | Creative Culinary recently posted…Watermelon SalsaMy Profile

    • Thank you, Barb! I’m so happy that I’ve reminded you of some fond summer memories of berry and cherry picking with your kids. Yes, there are never enough hours in the day. Right? Congrats on the increased traffic, girl! In my book, that’s always a good thing. Wishing you all the best in your new “home” on the new server. Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s always a good day when I hear from you! xoxo

  6. Kumar's Kitchen says:

    cherries are bursting with red, so fruity,can taste the pleasant tartness and fell your joy picking up these lovely beauties…that is all one needs for a perfect trip 🙂
    Kumar’s Kitchen recently posted…Home- Style Matar Paneer For Brightening Up A Cloudy DayMy Profile

  7. Wow – gorgeous photos!
    Shashi @ recently posted…Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes!My Profile

  8. Wow, I love your field trip photos! I adore tart cherries and these look so pretty and plump. We have been meaning to take our son cherry and berry picking for his first time but it still hasn’t happened yet. Your gorgeous photos are reminding me to get our butts and just go before the season is over. Thanks again for sharing Stacy, your cheery sunny posts always bring a smile to my face 🙂

  9. What an incredible experience! Thanks so much for sharing this, Stacy. I wonder if there’s anywhere near Austin to do this… I would love to get out there and pick my own cherries!
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking recently posted…Easy Maple-Bourbon BBQ Baked BeansMy Profile

    • Thank you for stopping by, Georgia! You would love cherry picking. It’s so much fun, not to mention rewarding. Mmmm! Thanks again, my friend!

  10. I love tart cherries: I grew up with three tart cherry trees in our garden, and my sister and I would pit cherries every summer for homemade preserves. It’s really hard to find fresh tart cherries on the market these days though, so I am very jealous that you got to do cherry picking. I’ve pinned several of your beautiful photos from this post!
    Julia | recently posted…Mixed berry yogurt muffinsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Julia! What wonderful childhood memories you have. I grew up with raspberry bushes in our backyard, but no cherry tree. It truly is a blessing to have a cherry orchard nearby! I wish I could send you a bushel full of freshly picked tart cherries. Headed on over to your blog to check out your Mixed Berry Yogurt Muffins!

  11. Yummy cherries! I can never resist them 🙂

  12. Maria | Pink Patisserie says:

    Those cherries look like little jewels! So gorgeous and bright! And the farm store.. So cute. I love places like that! Glad you survived your week!

    • Thank you, Maria! Just visited your site. What a gorgeous tart! Have fun on your summer vacay, girl. The blog will be there when you get back. Can’t wait to hear about your trip upon your return. Thanks for stopping by! xo

  13. Oh my gosh, I totally remember going to Stuckey Farm every summer as a kid to pick apples and other fruits! It’s so much fun, and your cherry photos are simply beautiful, Stacy! Now I’m craving cherry pie as well!
    Monica recently posted…Cranberry-Walnut Corn MuffinsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Monica! I’m glad this post brought back fond childhood summertime memories of home here in Indiana! xo

  14. Such a nice post.. Adding cherry picking to our foodie adventures!!! No cherries in Miami, =(
    Mr. & Mrs. P recently posted…French Kiss Martini : Guest Post Over at Chickadee SaysMy Profile

    • Thank you, guys! Aww…looks like you’ll have to travel to Upstate New York, Midwest or Pacific Northwest for a culinary vacay to pick tart cherries. Yay!

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