<p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">When we began the countdown to cherry season 5 weeks ago, we were justifiably excited, but also a little guarded.&#160; Between the start of cherry countdown and the beginning of the harvest, there are lots of things that can change.</span></p> <p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">The weather plays such a huge role in the last few weeks of cherry growing.&#160; If it is too wet, the cherries can split, which can be a disaster for harvest and shipping.&#160; If it is too cold, the ripening process will slow down.&#160; Every day longer the cherries stay on the trees is another day that can rain.&#160; If it is too hot, the cherries ripen at a quick clip and are ready before we have the manpower to harvest.</span></p> <p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">This year, the heat in early July led to a slightly early harvest, and compared with previous years, we have seen a faster ripening across all varieties.&#160; This has meant that the last few days have been spent organizing and amassing a team to pick and pack the cherries on the farm.</span></p> <p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">So now, after a long 5 weeks of wondering what Mother Nature would have in store for us, the wait is over.&#160; The cherries are here and they are phenomenal!&#160; The <a href="https://blog.theorganicbox.ca/the-cherry-harvest/" target="_blank">first harvests</a> are of the Rainier and Skeena varieties and you should see a bag of both in your box this week.</span></p> <p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">It can be hard to resist eating all of your cherries by the handful, but we have a proposition for you: This week, enjoy your cherries fresh.&#160; Fall in love with their juicy flavour and firm texture.&#160; Rinse off a bowlful and dig in on the couch.&#160; Next week, it is time to get down to business.</span></p> <p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">Since you will have fallen in love with the cherries, order a case and a <a href="https://membership.theorganicbox.ca/HDMI.aspx?page=Market&amp;idCategoryTop0=303" target="_blank">cherry pitter</a> to go along with it.&#160; Book an afternoon with your family to methodically plunge the pits out of your beloved cherries (exercising extreme willpower to avoid eating every last one) and freeze them on a baking sheet in a single layer.&#160; Once frozen, transfer cherries to a freezer bag and label.&#160; Come mid-November you will be so pleased that you have a sweet cherry to enjoy that you will almost forget how long it took to wash the cherry juice from your fingertips.</span></p> <p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">Cherries hold up really well to freezing and can be thawed at a later date for use in pies, sauces, and smoothies.&#160; I find that frozen cherries give a great texture to desserts, because you can drain off the excess cherry juice after thawing and before cooking.</span></p> <p class="bodycopy"><span lang="EN-US">Once you see how easy and fun it is to prepare you cherries for your winter stores, you will be eager to jump into preserving all of your favourite summer fruit.&#160;&#160;</span></p>