Cherries are one of those fruits that are inseparable from summer: like with strawberries or watermelon, it feels totally wrong to eat fresh cherries at any other time of the year. I look forward to the Dutch cherry season like an impatient kid counting down to his or her birthday, or to be more precise, to the presents. For me, the plump, juicy, crunchy cherries that await are better than any shop-bought ‘cadeau.’
The Dutch cherry season lasts 5-6 weeks starting somewhere around mid July. Due to the long cold spell, they were a couple of weeks late, but it was more than worth the wait. The weather conditions this year – favourable to the fruit but not to us poor humans – allowed the cherries to flower and fruit very well, and in copious amounts too!
For me, no cherry season is complete without a trip to the cherry orchard. Besides buying cherries for feasting, I usually buy a massive box for jam or preserving in port. A cherry orchard feels romanic and alluring: perhaps Chekhov’s play has something to do with this.
When cherry trees are fruiting in full, it’s a sight to behold: groups of shiny, black cherries hang in clusters along the branches over the whole tree. The abundance is overwhelming and it’s pretty hard at this stage to hold back and not just want to eat them all. Eating cherries straight off the tree is one of the biggest pleasures I can imagine. It can’t get any fresher, which perhaps explains the Dutch phrase ‘kers vers’ (cherry fresh). “Pick me, pick me!”, they’re all saying. And so I did. Six and a half kilos later, I left the orchard with my hands and mouth stained black from picking and eating the sweet cherries. I cycled away with the box strapped on the back of my bike (praying it wouldn’t fall off), dreaming about the delicious pots of jam that would soon follow….
Thanks to Vera and Dirk from Eerlijk & Heerlijk in Zuidoostbeemster for hosting me on their beautiful orchard!