Back in 2011, while attending a regional GWA (Garden Writers Association) meeting in Chicago, I received a couple of small seedlings of a dwarf sour cherry shrub - 'Carmine Jewel'. Gurney's supplied them to us as part of the swag that we usually get when we attend such meetings.
I brought them home and planted them back near our apple trees. They didn't grow much the first couple of years and then those pesky wabbits chewed them off at the ground one winter. (Grrr... That's what I get for boasting about never having any rabbit issues.) I was certain they were both goners, but they came back from the roots - like gangbusters!
Last year, we had three blooms on one shrub and ended up with one cherry. I couldn't decide what to make with that cherry, so I simply ate it.
This year, I was taken aback when I saw how profusely both shrubs were blooming and I made plans for pies, cobbler, jelly... Once the cherries started turning red, I netted them so the birds didn't get to them before I did.
In the end, there weren't as many as I'd hoped there would be, but...
I haven't yet decided what I'm going to make (after I pit them...gah), but I think it might be this:
● Tart Cherry Crisp ●
(Recipe from Taste of Home)
The 'Carmine Jewel' Dwarf Cherry was bred at the University of Saskatchewan and was introduced to the public in 1999. It is a shrub-type cherry that reaches a maximum height of about 6½ feet and a spread of about 5 feet, making it ideal for limited space gardens.
Self-pollinating, it is one of the first cherries to ripen in early summer, with stunningly heavy yields in its fifth year, with 20-30 pounds of cherries per shrub not uncommon.
'Carmine Jewel' is is rated for zones 2b-7, making it very hardy. It is a firm cherry with small pits, making it excellent for drying. It has few disease and pest problems, making it a good choice for organic production.
It seems that it's a common error among backyard gardeners to pick these cherries before they're completely ripe. They're nearly black when at their peak and will be quite a bit sweeter if you can be patient. I noticed a few cherries falling off the trees, so I started harvesting them - in error. They will still be fine to eat in recipes, but next year, I'll know to wait a little longer.
A tardy thanks to Gurney's for providing these shrubs free of charge at our GWA meeting.