Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do I need to do to prepare for picking?
First, contact us and check current U-pick hours. Second, bring several containers to pick into since fruit bruises when stacked. Favorite containers are boxes, bins, and other large, flat containers.
2. How do I know if the fruit is ripe?
Cherries: Taste-test. See which variety tastes sweetest to you!
Peaches: Look for the yellow tone underlying the red, or sunburned color on the peach skin. Avoid green undertones; they will take longer to ripen and never have the same degree of sweetness as a peach that is picked when ripe. The peach should also be soft where it attaches to the limb, and should come off into your hard with a slight pull. Playing tug-of-war with a peach means that it is not ripe enough to pick. One variety, the Improved Elberta, actually falls off of the tree when ripe. This fruit needs to sit on your counter-top for a day or more to finish ripening.
3. What is a "freestone" peach?
A freestone peach is one from which you can easily remove the pit without mangling the peach. A semi-cling peach requires more ripening before the pit will come out of the fruit easily. If you pick a "cling" peach, slice it from the pit to preserve the juice.
4. Do I need a ladder?
Not normally. All our Cherry trees are topped off at 10 feet and our Peach trees at 8 feet. Step-stools are helpful to reach the big beauties that hang just out of reach, but most of our fruit can be accessed from the ground.
5. How do I avoid bruising?
Pick cherries with stems on, avoiding the bruise created when the cherry separates from the stem. Sturdy bags work for cherries, but peaches are best transported in shallow boxes, no more than 2 layers deep. Avoid over-handling fruit; buckets are OK but it is best to pick into the container that you will transport fruit home in, and then leave it in this same container to finish ripening.
6. What are the best ways to preserve cherries?
Cherries refrigerate well (pick with stems if you want them to last up to a week), and can also be canned, frozen, or dried. For canning, a 1:5 (sugar to water) ratio is sufficient. Cherries can be pitted before freezing if their destination is baked goods or a smoothie, or frozen with the pit intact if they are intended for sweet, icy snacks in the summertime.
7. What are the best ways to preserve peaches?
Peaches ripen from the outside in toward the pit. Yellow fruit that is soft where it attached to the tree will ripen to the core in 1-3 days, and be sweeter than the day you picked it. To can peaches, blanch them with boiling water to remove the peeling. Cut into two halves or slice into jars and cover with syrup (1 cup sugar to 5 cups water). Bring to a boil in a hot water bath, and boil for 20 minutes. To freeze peaches, slice into water that includes lemon juice or use a product designed to keep your fruit from browning. Freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to cartons or heavy-duty bags. To dry peaches, uniformly slice into lemon-juice water and then arrange on dryer shelves. Set the temperature as directed and then check every few hours so that you don't over-dry the fruit. Bake dried fruit at 200 degrees for one hour, and then freeze in small bags (for ease of use).