I was too preoccupied with the fact that a whole bunch of fruit was going to go to waste, while there are kids eating dirt cookies in Africa.
Raw cherries make the insides of my mouth hurt. And for some reason raw fruit of any kind is anathema to half of this family, although Colin will eat fruit that I wash and peel and cut and present to him on a silver platter with a live string quartet playing in the background.
So, basically, the cherries were doomed.
Then Jack asked “what are you going to do with those cherries, mom?” And I remembered how much he likes pie and cobbler and all kinds of stuff with cooked fruit in it. It just makes me feel like a good mom when he’s eating stuff with ingredients I can pronounce, and even more so when it’s stuff I’ve prepared with my own, two, loving hands.
Which is how I found myself Googling recipes for cherry pie filling this morning.
And how I learned that every single recipe out there requires pitted cherries.
I don’t know why this surprised me. I guess I half expected to just wash and dump the whole bag into a big pot with sugar and stir it until everything – pits, stems, whatever – dissolved into a glob, which is what I would dump into a pie crust (I kind of rock the pie crust part), and bake and then post a picture of on Facebook.
If I’m going to make a damn pie, it’s going on Facebook.
I’ve only done apple pie filling, which is hard enough with the peeling and coring and slicing of the apples.
Turns out apples are for beginners. Cherry pitting takes things to a whole ‘nother level.
The cherry pitting method I started out with required a toothpick and looked pretty easy on Google. You just stick the toothpick in the stem end, root around a bit, and the pit just pops out, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.
The article warned the first few attempts might be messy.
To which I say: Way to understate things, Google. You’d probably say the Hulk has ‘anger management’ issues, too.
First of all, cherry pits aren’t cooperative. They don’t just pop out of the cherry when you start rooting around with a toothpick. They can’t be reasoned with. They have to be cajoled and then threatened and then dragged kicking and screaming from every last bit of fruit flesh.
After about 15 minutes of this method, I had about seven pitted cherries and needed a cocktail.
There was another method, in which a long, blunt instrument, like a straw is stuck in one end of the cherry and pushes the pit out the other end.
The pit-pushing method worked a little better, but resulted in a whole lot of cherry juice splatter and the occasional flying pit.
I don’t know my agricultural weights and measures, but I’m pretty sure I had what one might refer to as a “butt-load” of cherries, which is somewhere between a “pint-basket” and a “fuck-ton,” and probably more than I needed for one pie.
But I have this thing about food waste. I hate it. And all my friends and family who are drive-by zucchini bombers know this.
Around about late August, I’ll start finding zucchini stacked like cordwood on my front porch because somebody last spring got drunk and said “hey, I’m bored…Wait, I know … we could either build another catapult to fling squirrels into the neighbor’s yard, OR we could plant a bunch of zucchini nobody will want later.”
Because nobody ever is completely sober when planning zucchini, or else they’d remember the last drunken zucchini debacle from which we ended up with a bunch of produce we all felt guilty for letting rot.
So here I was pushing pits out of cherries, which worked better than the rooting-around-in-the-cherry-with-a-toothpick method, except it made a huge mess, and made me think of Witches of Eastwick and its cherry-barfing scene.
And then I quickly had to think of something else because I HATE that scene, so I thought about how my sink and kitchen counter were starting to look like the Red Wedding in the Game of Thrones.
But then Mike came in and remarked how things were looking rather like a crime scene, which made me think of that show Dexter and how the main character would immediately discern my lack of competence with cherry pitting based upon the splatter pattern.
All of this made me miss cable a little bit.
I asked Jack to take some pictures of the mess I was making pitting cherries (because this blog was actually conceived as an instructional piece on how to make rock-star homemade cherry pie).
That’s when we had one of those funny conversations that make me want to scream into a pillow.
It started out with Jack saying: “You know what’s funny? Grandma and Grandpa just sold a cherry pitter at their yard sale.”
Finally, it was done. The whole butt-load. I was cleaning up the carnage, when mom called and asked “Oh, are you using pie cherries?”
You mean, I’ve been working all this time, and these might be cherries that are expressly NOT FOR PIES?
I thought: THESE cherries, these ones I mauled in my kitchen, I don’t care if they are made for pitching out an airplane. I don’t care if they didn’t THINK they were for pies when they got up this morning, they are GOING INTO A PIE.
But, as it turns out though, right below the cherry pitting instructions was a very easy recipe for a French dessert called cherry clafoutis. Which was a good thing.
I was too tired for making pie crust.
I’m not baking you a pie, but you could still vote. It wouldn’t kill you.