Urban Foraging: Sour Pie Cherries

by Jill Lightner

Montmorency cherries—also known as sour cherries, pie cherries, and “hands off, those are mine” cherries—are worth hunting down in June or (depending on the weather) the first week of July. The season is short, and the pickings are slim; only recently have tart cherry prices been such that they’re worthwhile for Washington orchards to grow. More commonly, an orchard that grows primarily other fruit will have a few Montmorency trees, so a few will show up at farmer’s markets as a seemingly random event. The price per pound is steep, but the resulting fresh cherry pie or cobbler is truly exceptional. Even better: Cook up a few pints of jam, and dole them out over the coming year. The flavors combine clove and lemon with a powerful cherry taste that’s worth the hunt. Look for short, straight stems and a true, clear red color. Puget Sound Fresh lists nine farms or farmstands offering pie cherries, including a nursery selling Montmorency trees.


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