Becoming a Wild Thing

How picking wild cherries turned into a tasty snack.


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Allowing ourselves to become “Wild Things” was something I wrote about last week. When you put it that way, it sounds kind of adventurous…maybe even fun.

Hope it’s not disappointing to learn that I mean “Wild Thing” in the sense of someone who looks in nature for things to eat. For instance, berries…all kinds of wild berries. Thanks to all who posted comments and messages!

This week, when my 7-year-old grandson Liam was visiting me, he pointed at a tree and said, “Look at the fruit, Grandma. What is it? Can we eat it?” 

He was pointing at wild cherries hanging on a tree in our backyard. In spite of the fact that it was very old, scarred, bedraggled, and half-hidden in a deeply-shaded thicket of wild shrubs and trees, thousands of cherries were literally dripping from it.

Truth is, I’m not real excited about wild cherries. I explained to Liam, “The fruit is small. The pit is very big. And the taste… well, if they’re allowed to ripen thoroughly—they can be quite tasty, but usually I’ve tried them when they are still bitter.”

I’ve walked by that wild cherry tree 10,000 times, at least, and ignored the little dark purplish-blue berries, except to pick a few from time to time and roll them around on my tongue separating that big pit from the little fruit, and noticing that if they aren’t very, very dark purple blue, the sweet taste can have a bitter tang.

But…hey! What if I were a pilgrim or a pioneer…wouldn’t I be happy to find this tree? Wouldn’t I find out a way to use that fruit for something? Jams? With milk and sugar? Dried? Maybe a berry cobbler? What did the Native Americans do?  

So, I’m taking a couple of hours off from writing this to go out and pick a few wild cherries and experiment to see what I can do with them. I’ll be back soon....

(One hour later) Okay. I’m back. I talked Larry into going out to the back field to pick a few wild cherries with me. It’s about 90 degrees hot and 90% humidity! Whew! 

Once we got a few cherries in our red bowl, we talked about what to do with them, and decided to steam them (his suggestion) and see if the pits would come out easily. 

Here’s what happened. The steaming did work…but once the pits and the skins were taken off, there was basically nothing left but the juice that had leaked down into the pot. Hmmmmm. Just juice. What could I do with juice? 

Some of you may have better ideas, but I took a cup of the juice and water combination, stirred it together with some unflavored gelatin, some lemon juice, and some sweetener,

Lo and behold…a couple hours later, we plopped some yogurt on top of the firmed up wild cherry gelatin, and had a very tasty snack! So, I guess those wild cherries might be worthwhile picking after all.

Or…if the weather stays so hot and humid, I might just decide that the birds need to have wild cherry treats more than I do!

Carol

Feel free to email me your environmental tips and questions!

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Tags: Cooking,Nature
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