Something In The Making

Washington, United States
Quilts and memories make the world a warmer place.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Its A Cherry Tree

Valentine's Day has come and gone. I am sure that the card companies, chocolate and jewelry stores have a "hay day with this celebration. I, happen to enjoy taking part in this day.
The night before John tells me he has taken the day off from work and he needs me to help him. Actually, he said, "We are going to get dirty". A few weeks before he had teased me about a Valentines gift. I looked at him and suggested he take the day off and drag the boat to the lake for a spin. I offered a lunch to take along.
On the morning of Valentines, he has a card ready for me and inside is a receipt from the nursery. With big eyes the look I give him is followed by one word, "Trees"? I had thought he had a few more Cypress trees for the fence line.
We packed Max and Fritz in the truck for a ride to the nursery to find the lady that had helped him with his selection. To my surprise he had chosen a semi-dwarf Asian pear and a 5-way grafted cherry tree. I have asked for a cherry tree for several years now. That is all the farther that thought had gotten until today. We have several apple trees, a pear, Italian plum and a yellow plum .

By the time we get home it is more than pouring down rain. You can not tell where the sky or ground meet. Sheets of water coming down. Max and Fritz are standing under the tall evergreens protecting them from the rain; with that look of "you can't be serious" and out comes the tractor to help plant the trees. One of the comments the lady said at the nursery was, "Water these trees every three days for 6 months. The rain is not enough water for them". Oh ya the rain is dripping down my cheeks and I am continually wiping it from my forehead because it is getting in my eyes.

The cherry tree has five different grafts on it. Bing, Rainer, Kristen, Glacier and Sam. They are all sweet cherries. This grafted tree is great for anyone like me who can not make up there mind on which one to take home! I was able to find some information on each type of cherry and the Asian pear.

Sweet Cherries
The Bing Cherry is one of the finest commercial sweet cherries and it is the most famous sweet cherry variety. It produces a very large, delicious cherry that ranges in color from a deep garnet to almost black. The skin is smooth and glossy and the flesh firm and sweet.
Bing Semi-Dwarf Cherry Trees:
Bing cherries are good for cooking as well as out-of-hand eating. The flesh is very solid, reddish-purple in color, and is flavorful and juicy. The Bing Cherry tree requires cross-pollination to produce fruit.
About the Rainier :
The Rainier Cherry tree produces sweet, large, yellow fruit with a red blush. The fruit is firm and the flesh is fine-textured and clear to light yellow. Fans of the Rainier appreciate the creamy-yellow flesh, which gives the blush of the skin a sunny undertone. The sweetness is what keeps them coming back for more.
The Rainier has a distinct sweet flavor. It is a very productive tree that resists cracking, spurs and doubles. The tree will pollinate with the Bing Cherry. It will not self-pollinate.
Kristin Cherry:
Purplish black Cherries- fruit ripens in July. Grows up to 25 feet tall. Cherries are very tasty. An extra sweet Cherry. Pollinate with any other cherry variety.
Rainier Cherry
Rainier Cherries are large- about an inch in diameter with firm- juicy flesh. Ripens in Mid-July. Very hardy as these Cherries are raised in Michigan. Pollinate with any other variety. Waxy green foliage.
Sam Cherries:
Sam Cherries are a large, firm Sweet Cherry with dark reddish-brown skin. History: Developed in Summerland, British Columbia, Canada.
Sweet Cherries
Sweet Cherry trees grow up to 36 feet (11 metres) tall, which is much taller than Sour Cherry trees. They also spread out almost as wide as they are tall. Unlike Sour Cherry trees, a Sweet Cherry tree can't pollinate itself; it needs another Sweet Cherry tree to cross-pollinate with. And not just any ole Sweet Cherry tree. Sweet Cherry trees of the same type will not cross-pollinate, and even amongst the varieties there are some that won't cross-pollinate with each other. For instance, Bing, Emperor Francis, Lambert, Napoleon, and Star Cherry trees can't cross pollinate with each other. Consequently, when planting Sweet Cherry trees, growers have to not only plant different varieties, but also chose varieties that will pollinate each other -- and make sure that these varieties bloom at the same time! In addition to all this, bees are needed to do the pollination, so growers often put bee hives in their orchards. The complicated planning required for pollinization, plus the number of trees required, plus the huge size of each tree, is what makes them very uncommon in home gardens. Sweet Cherries are larger than Sour Cherries. They are heart-shaped and firm. The skin can be yellowish, or dark red to dark reddish-purple. Popular North American varieties include Royal Ann, Bing, Lambert and Tartarian. The trees have to be netted, or have bird scaring devices on them, because birds love these trees. Sweet Cherry cultivars are divided into two groups. Mazzards are heart-shaped, softer fruits (Guigne in French, Gean in the UK). The Bigaroon group ("Bigarreau" in France and the UK) are round, firm, crisp fruits. Cooking Tips Sweet Cherries can also be used in cooking. History The first attempt to introduce Sweet Cherries into North America didn't work out. They were brought over with British colonists in 1629 and planted on the East Coast, but they died out. Sour Cherry trees were more hardy and were grown there instead. Sweet Cherries were reintroduced over on the West Coast by Spanish missionaries. Language Notes The Latin name "Prunus avium" can be broken down as follows in a way that any gardener will understand. "Prunus" meant cherry or plum (the Greeks and Romans kind of used the same word for both), and "avium" comes from "avis", meaning birds. So, a fruit that you grow and that the birds eat. Sweet Cherries are also called "Dessert Cherries", meaning that they can be eaten fresh out of hand. But given that Sour Cherries can be cooked up in a baked good for dessert, this terminology can be unhelpful.
Cherries have been shown to have several health benefits. Cherries contain anthocyanins, which is the red pigment in berries. Cherry anthocyanins have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation[1]. Anthocyanins are also potent antioxidants. Cherries have also been shown to contain high levels of melatonin[2]. Research has shown that people who have heart attacks have low melatonin levels [3]. Besides being an anti-oxidant, melatonin has also been shown to be important for the function of the immune system. Research also indicates that melatonin suppresses COX-2.

Asian Pears
You are going to hear lots of conflicting stories about Asian Pears over the next few decades. They are tart, they are sweet; they are very good to cook with, they are not good to cook with; the trees are self-pollinating, they are not self-pollinating. And, all these stories are true. For in fact, referring to Asian Pears as "Asian Pears" is like referring to every apple grown in the United States and the Commonwealth as an "Anglo-Saxon Apple". Lumping all the apples together like that would be useless and misleading, and while Asian pear is a good term to distinguish these pears from European pears, it is not good of any use at all in helping you pick out which one is best for you. There are twenty very different ones listed on this site alone. That being said, there are general characteristics that Asian Pears mostly share, and general ways in which they can be grouped. Asian Pears fall into 3 main types:
Round or slightly-flattened with greenish or yellowish skin (the greenish colour tending towards yellow as it ripens);
Round or slightly-flattened with brownish or orangish or bronzy skin with russetting (starting off with green skin, with the browny hues and russetting happening towards ripening;
Shaped like a European pear, with green or brownish russetted skin.
The pears that originated in Japan tend to have yellow, brown or yellowish-brown skin; those that originated from China tend to have greenish-yellow skin. Aside from the few that look like pears should, Asian Pears generally are shaped like apples and have the same crisp crunch as apples when you bite into them. They are not meant to be soft and buttery like European pears. They are bigger than European pears: the smallest is about the size of a good orange, and they can equal the size of a very hefty grapefruit. Asian Pears bruise extremely easily, so they are usually shipped with padding (often little white foam net bags) around each one. Otherwise, they will turn black within a day in the spots where they have been jostled or bumped. North American producers are adapting to the growing market demand for Asian Pears, but they have a few reasons not to like them entirely:
European pears have to be picked while hard, otherwise they will go grainy and mealy on the tree. Happily, this fact also makes them easier to ship (and the pears will continue to ripen after picking). Asian Pears stop ripening the minute you pick them, and so have to be left on the tree until well into the ripening and softening stage;
Despite the fact that the Asian Pears won't ripen or develop any more flavour after they are picked, growers are now being told they have to get them off the trees a bit early anyway (see "Internal Browning" below.) This impacts the flavour;
All the Asian pear trees, if anything, produce too much fruit, so much that it can cause the limbs to break right off from the weight. Consequently, growers need to thin out the fruit when it is still very small, about the size of cherries. The trees produce many clusters of fruit, and the rule of thumb seems to be to leave one fruit growing per cluster. However, this adds to the cost of growing them, as you've got to pay people to go in and do the thinning. It also lowers your yield per acre.
A young Asian pear tree will start producing between 5 and 15 pounds (2 to 7 kg) of fruit after it is 3 years old. By the time the tree is 5 years old, it will produce 30 to 50 pounds (13 1/2 to 22 1/2 kg), and when it is mature, anywhere from 100 to 400 pounds (45 to 180 kg).The trees generally never grow more than 12 feet tall (3 1/2 metres). The ripeness of Asian Pears isn't based on firm they are, as they will always be firm and crunchy, but rather it is based on fragrance (so again, close your eyes and sniff when buying.) The fruit, though, has to be picked from the tree before it gets soft, as then it is overripe and can feel spongy. Besides being shaped differently and having a different texture from European pears, Asian Pears have another distinguishing feature. If you let European pears ripen on the tree, they taste awful. Asian Pears you can let ripen on the tree, and pull them directly off and eat them. Internal Browning There have been reports of Asian Pears that look fine on the outside, but when the consumer gets them home, the pears have gone a yucky, mooshy brown inside. This is called "internal browning" and is in fact a worldwide consumer complaint about Asian Pears. Producers have found, through trial and error, that this occurs during storage, sometimes during the very first month of storage, and generally happens mostly to Asian Pears that have been picked more than 180 days after full bloom on the tree. Producers around the world are sharing knowledge on what exactly is causing this problem and how to prevent it, but in the meantime, they are going on what they know and picking the pears just a little bit early, which impacts the flavour. The varieties of Asian Pears most susceptible to "internal browning" are Daisui Li, Olympic, Serui, Shin Li, Shinko, Tsu Li, and Ya Li. If you get a bad one, take it back to the store as the produce manager should know about it: the whole shipment may be bad. They may not want to know, they may prefer that you just pitched the pear and let them keep your money, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt here and assume that like all good produce sellers they care about the quality of the food going out their doors. Cooking Tips Asian Pears give off a lot of juice when cooked, so if you are using them in something, be prepared to need to compensate a bit. Storage Asian Pears have a very long storage life compared to other fruit. See entries for the individual varieties for storage times, as storage life will vary. But in general, you can keep them at room temperature for up to two weeks, and in commercial storage where a precise temperature range around 34F (1 C) can be maintained, some varieties will store for up to six months. History Asian Pears seem to have been cultivated in what is now Japan, China and Korea as far back as 1100 BC, making them the oldest cultivated type of pear in the world. The market for Asian Pears in the Western world started in the 1980s, with demand coming from Asians who had moved to the West. Now, 25 years later (2004), other consumers are catching on, too. New plantings are being done to accommodate the market for these consumers. Literature & Lore Sometimes Asian Pears are called "Apple Pears". Just as Jerusalem Artichokes got their name from some misguided soul who thought s/he was being helpful, but who ended up creating a lot of confusion (fingers have been pointed at Samuel de Champlain), and just as Christopher Columbus has a lot to answer for in calling a chile a "pepper", someone thought that because these pears were shaped liked apples and were crunchy like apples, "Apple Pears" would be a really helpful name. They were wrong. You end up seeing things like this in print: "Asian Pears are a variety developed by crossbreeding pears and apples, combining the mild flavour of the former with the crispness of the latter." They are nothing of the sort, they are pears through and through. As you have seen, the generic term "Asian Pear" is causing enough confusion as it is, without nonsense like that going around.
Kosui Pears
A Kosui pear is on the small to medium side for Asian Pears. It has a round shape that looks flattened, like mandarin oranges do. The skin is tender; it will have brown russetting on a background that varies from light green to bronze-brown or bronze-yellow. The taste is very sweet with no tartness; the flesh is crisp and juicy. Storage Store in fridge for up to 1 month. History The Kosui is a hybrid between Kikusui and Wasekozo Asian Pears. It was released in Japan in 1959. Language Notes Kosui in Japanese means "Good Water".
For all of you who read this to the laughing at me in the rain and my silly boots!!!!


Susan said...

Yeah, looks a little wet. =) I love Bing and Ranier cherries! I had never had the Raniers until I was in Washington a couple of summers ago. Then I ate them like a pig! You will have wonderful fruit when they begin bearing!

Ati. said...

What a nice and thoughtfully valentine present :)

Gerry said...

You look like you're having too much fun. LOL. But I swear I almost see a smile...maybe a smirk?!? The tree is a great idea.

Renea said...

WEt WEt WEt!!! yukky!!! But the tree was bare root and had to be planted NOW!

I had asked for a cherry tree for several years and this shows me he listens.

Smirk.....always! Otherwise, life gets you.