“What to do with all those cherries?” is a question you hear a lot around here (rural Southern Germany) these days. One big cherry tree can feed a lot of people, and after we got the first load from a neighbor last week we received a second batch the other day from another neighbor. Nobody is willing to let anything go to waste. In this case about ten pounds of freshly plucked cherries.
My mom is an avid apple and plum dryer and tried drying cherries for the first time last year which she then sent to us kids. In order to make them suitable for thoughtless consumption or as a cereal topping the cherries have to be pitted first. We used our trusted cherry-pitter, a fine example of GDR craftsmanship a lot older than myself.
The washed cherries go into the top, roll down a small pipe, you jam onto the metal thingy which has a little cross, much like a screwdriver, on the bottom that punches out the pit. Or, as in an incident manymany year ago, parts of your thumb, creating my first ever major blood blister. You gotta be careful around these things! Once the cherries are pitted, they are put on trays which are then stacked on top of each other above a special drying apparatus – think a mild blow dryer.
We managed to fill eight trays. They have to sit on the dryer for about 48 hrs. And obviously, the bottom tray will be done first, after about 18 hrs, we take them out one after the other. Drying times vary depending on how much water a certain type of fruit contains. Thinly sliced apples – which are always sent to us in fall – go much quicker.
Et voilà: home-dried cherries from the garden.