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Cherry Picking

Posted by Mike on 6/14/2009 to Local News

For the last several years, on one Saturday in June, it’s been a ritual for my wife and I to take the drive up to Leona Valley in southern California to pick cherries.  Because of the dry winter, the picking season started a bit later this year.  But the pickin’s were still pretty good.

Although several new cherry tree farms have popped up in the Leona Valley since we first started our annual excursion, we’ve stayed with the place where we picked our first several buckets: Northside Cherries.   Maybe, the other places are cheaper.  Maybe, their cherries are larger or tastier.  For sure, a few of them our slightly closer to home.   But who cares?  We’re satisified enough with Northside Cherries so there is no reason to shop around.  

Northside has a large grove of different types of trees on a hillside.  They’ve got bings, tartarians and rainiers.     The people that run the place are friendly and helpful, and love to see their customers come back year after year.  They give you little buckets and send you on your way to pick as many as you want for $3/ pound.   Delicious cherries and very fair prices, especially if you enjoy rainiers.  Of course, every cherry tree is not the same, and part of the fun is conducting ongoing taste tests as you lock into the trees with the plumpest and sweetest cherries. 

I think the first time we went, my wife put almost as many cherries in her tummy as she put in the picking buckets.  Yesterday, she said she thought she gained about 3 pounds while grazing on the hillside.    It’s a  good thing they don’t weigh you going in and out! 

She told me to go for the rainiers, which I did.  But I prefer bings so I picked a half bucket of the sweet reds to go with a bucket and a half of rainiers.  My wife and my son each picked about a third to a half of a bucket of rainiers.  Although I was admonmished later that I should have focused on quality rather than quantity, I did not see her discarding too many of the cherries that I picked.

In total, we picked about 14 pounds of cherries yesterday.  My son took a pound to give to his girlfriend.   My wife will eat most of the rest.   Me?  I usually only eat cherries while I am picking them.  That’s when they taste the absolute best.

Mike Lee