Cherries with a Side Order of St. John’s Wort

picking cherries

The Practical Herbalist team headed out to the hills last week to pick cherries at a local farm, Detering Orchards in Harrisburg, Oregon, hosted the latest Practical Herbalist field trip. Cherries were early this year, and we gathered our buckets and bags to collect them. Although cherry is a traditional remedy for gout, our intentions were purely culinary.

The sky was slightly overcast when we started on our adventure, but the day warmed up as the clouds burned off. We paid a deposit for cherry picking and drove out from the farm stand to the orchard. Several families were there already filling their buckets with handfuls of sweet cherries.

Two of the cherry varieties were ready for picking: the Rainer, a sweet but smaller yellow cherry, and the Lambert, a larger, juicier red cherry. As Patrick and Candace planned to dry their cherries as well as eat them fresh, they picked both varieties. The Rainer dried to a additively sweet, candy-like flavor. The Lambert was preferred for eating fresh.

Sue hopped into the nearest tree to stuff her bags with clusters of fruit that were out of reach to the regular picker. The branches were dripping with deeply colored cherries that overwhelmed the eye and inspired even the laziest picker. All Sue had to do was hold her bag under a branch and scoop. The bags were filled in no time.

Patrick and Candace keep their feet wisely planted on the good earth. They covered more trees from the ground and soon had close to 60 pounds of cherries bulging from their bags. It was over within an hour.

Cherry Picking 062We paid for our cherries and headed for the next adventure – St. John’s wort collecting. June is the season for harvesting both cherries and St. John’s wort, and the Practical Herbalist team was not going to miss out on either opportunity.

We found a healthy stand of St. John’s wort growing between a field and stream bed. The flowers were huge. Teasel, blackberry, and yarrow kept this herb company. Bees tended the flowers without taking any notice of the human interlopers.

Sue and Candace picked a bag of St. John’s wort each for personal use. This herb was destined for oil, tincture, and witch hazel astringent. It’s great medicine for nerve damage. St. John’s wort has hypericin, which is a water soluable alkaloid. It must be processed fresh or it’ll lose its medicinal properties. We had no intention of missing out.

The trip was successful and our Practical Herbalist team looked over the schedule from Detering Orchards to plan out the next adventure. We didn’t want to miss out on any of summer’s treasures.

Cherry Picking 051

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