We planted our dwarf Tart Cherry tree a few years ago, and last year I was excited to see how may cherries it produced, but the birds stripped the tiny of all fruit before I could even say "pie".
This year I decided to get serious. I read all about how difficult it was to keep the birds at bay, but if it meant camping out under the tree, I was going to get a pie. I waited patiently and as the first cherries darkened, I started to notice some had been partially pecked, left to rot and others had been pecked completely, leaving just the bare pit hanging. It was time to pick cherries. I enlisted the help of some neighbor kids (mine were not the least interested) who were eager to pick until they tasted them. YUCK! Too tart!!
In my excitement to beat the birds, the first batch I picked was under ripe. Although not a fruit known to ripen off the tree, I did read that cherries might ripen slightly if left out for a day. I awoke the next morning prepared to make a pie, and found a bowl of rotten cherries. Disheartened, I gave them to our hens who ate them with gusto. One man's garbage is a backyard chicken's feast.
Two days later I noted bunches of red-ripe cherries that had not been pecked or damaged by the birds in any way. I got my bowl out and picked away, but didn't come up with 3 full cups, so I cheated and added a handful of store bought sweet cherries. Of course after tucking the pie safely in the oven I read that sweet cherries make horrible pies. Thankfully there were just a few. And the final verdict on the pie? Perhaps not the best looking, but one of the best tasting pies I have ever had! The rest of the cherries are for the birds.