Dobrzyn: Monday

July 22, 2014 • 5:36 am

The pickers came yesterday at 7 a.m.—at least most of them (a few cycled in later). They were a mixture of adults and schoolkids on vacation, with males and females in roughly equal numbers (Andrjez told me that the young men vie to pick next to the young women!)

The cherries were ripe for plucking (they are all “sour” cherries, destined for pie, syrup, and the like):


And the truck, filled with plastic pallets, was ready to receive its haul of fruit:

Picking truck

The pickers largely disappeared into the trees, with only their legs visible. (There were also small ladders to reach the tops.) They were quite efficient: after they had been through a tree, nary a cherry remained. They have a plastic box strapped around their waists, which they fill rapidly, for they get paid by the basket. Each basket holds about three kilos.


A harder tree:

Picking 2

After several baskets are picked, they are brought to the truck, where each picker’s haul is totted up, put into larger plastic pallets, and sorted to remove rotten fruit, leaves, and other debris:


Sorting 2

After a while, the cherries begin to accumulate on the truck. The day’s haul was, I’m told, about 3,000 kilos. But there are at least two days of picking left:


The best cherries are reserved for sale in the local market, while the rest are sold to factories that freeze them. As there was a glut of cherries last year, and they’re still frozen, the price for this year’s crop was very low: 1.05 zloty (about 35 cents US) per kilo.

For market

Pre-lunch walkies to the Vistula. Cyrus the d*g came along, though Hili remained behind. Here he nobly surveys the river:


Time for lunch, appetite whetted with a glass of fresh cherry juice:


Lunch was an assortment of Polish charcuterie: ham, local sausages, including the skinny ones (kabanosy), and cheese:


Then, jam and pie making. The batch of half-cooked jam from yesterday was brought out, cooked down further, and then put into sterilized jars. There were about twenty at the end:


Jam, and the makings of PIE:

Jam completed

Malgorzata made another pie with cherries I’d picked and pitted just an hour before. Many pies are required since I eat about four pieces per day. (It’s a great breakfast food!):


A close-up, only moments before it entered my alimentary canal:

Pie slice

For dinner Malgorzata made a recipe of her own devising: a sort of Chinese vegetable-and-pork stir-fry served over noodles. I washed it down with Zubr (“Bison”), my favorite Polish beer. And, of course, another piece of cherry pie to finish


The baskets and ladders were put away in the garden, ready for today’s picking:

Ready for tomorrow


39 thoughts on “Dobrzyn: Monday

  1. Can’t believe you posted all that without a single photo of the FPP (aka Hili), whom, by the way, I am plotting to kidnap, though Cyrus may present an obstacle to my plans.

  2. “Many pies are required since I eat about four pieces per day.”

    Reminds me of that Yogi Berra quote.

    “Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”

  3. Very nice. I wish I were there to help with the picking! I’ve never been to Poland, would love to visit one day.

    1. I second that! Is it possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been? The way you cover your trips to Poland, plus the daily Hili photo diary makes me long to visit what by all appearances is a warm and welcoming home.

  4. Is it hot? It looks as if Germany is cooking at present & it has been very unpleasant in London what with the humidity… 28c where I am sitting! 🙁

    1. I remember a “heatwave” in Germany back in about 1976, give or take a year. The temperature reached a bit over 80F (27C) for two weeks straight. I thought it was pretty funny. It was the longest stretch of sunny days I ever experienced there though.

      In a couple of other places I’ve lived a heatwave means temps over 100F (38C) for weeks. And one of those places the typical humidity was 90 + percent.

  5. What a wonderful respite! And having what sounds like local pickers – a community effort of sorts – is great, too.

    M&A – I think I remember from an earlier post that this is your 29th year doing this. Was there orchard there before, of did you start it? And are the trees all on contiguous property or do you have other parcels here and there?

  6. And BTW, I think your orchard is comparable to those in Michigan, where they grow sour cherries. An excellent brewery up there, Bell’s, uses some of the juice to make this excellent Cherry Stout. Does any Polish cherry juice find its way into brewing? If not, and with the surplus from last year…

    1. Bell’s is definitely a good one. I’ve never come across their cherry stout before though. I would really like to try that.

      I did once have a limited release super duper IPA from Bell’s, can’t remember the name, that was on a whole other level from any I had had before. The server set it on the table in front of me and the aroma hit me right away. I put my face closer and inhaled, and it was amazing. And even more amazing was that it tasted as good as it smelled. Hops overdose, but in a good way.

      Heck, I probably haven’t come across most of their stuff. Even these days with craft brews being so popular, you still miss out on most of the good stuff from a given brewery unless you are fairly local.

      1. Samuel Adams makes a decent Cherry Wheat…but the best way to drink it is with Guinness in a “black and tan”. Simply delicious!

  7. Love the view of the river. Your days in Dobrzyn sound just about perfect.

    And the cherries, oh man. Cherry pie is my favorite. My wife makes a fantastic one. But, four per day? Holy Smokes!

  8. Some answers:
    It is hot here: 30 to 32C.
    The price for cherries is dismal this year. It will barely cover the costs, if that.
    It is 16th year we are here and there was no cherry orchard before us (wheat and onions were growing all around the house). We planted the orchard. We have no other parcels – just 3 hectars of cherry trees all around the house.
    I do not think anybody is brewing cherry juice but I just do not know. For sure there is a kind of cherry vodka…

    1. My local supermarket in New Mexico was tasting local cherry/berry juice and local vodka. It seemed popular. I should try some.

    2. Sorry to hear about just breaking even this year, but quand même, bravo! The pasta looks so goooood and the fresh cherry juice sublime.

      (We use recycled jars which we turn upside down when making jam also!)

      1. I was wondering about the upside down jars. What is the reasoning there? When I was young we made pickles like crazy (planted way to many cucumber plants, they personify prolific), but we never turned the newly sealed jars upside down.

          1. I wonder if it’s to test the seal.
            If a jar leaks then the lid and seal need replacing.

  9. Concerning the second picture: What did the front side of that black t-shirt say? The back side said “… and sometimes sex with the ex” in German.

    PS: Seasonal fruit pickers from Germany in Poland is a nice break of cliché by the way.

      1. Your translation is correct, tho’ “dem ex” indicates the ex is masculine, “der ex” would be feminine.

        PS. Two thumbs up for Zubr, not that the other Polish beers are in any way lacking.

    1. It helps to seal the jars. The jam is hot when filled into them. That way any bacteria adhering to the rim and the lid gets killed off too.
      Due to the high sugar content of real jam bacteria, yeast and fungi have a hard time to grow.

      1. Thanks! I’ve only helped can pickles, so I was curious. The homemade jam my family makes usually gets frozen right away to prevent mold. Maybe if I give them this tip, it’ll make their task easier.

        1. It depends on the sugar content, if you freeze the jam you need a lot less sugar and you don’t need to cook it that much.

          A jam with 100g sugar and 100g fruit will keep at least 5 years, if kept dark and cool.

  10. This thread brings back childhood memories, we had a Schrebergarten (allotment garden) with cherries, plums and apples. That ment evenings of pitting cherries and plums and peeling and cutting apples. The next day was cooking and/or home canning time. Cherry and plum jam about 50 jars each, Chunky appleasauce and cherries in home canning jars, we deepfreezed the plums, which worked well for Pflaumenkuchen.

    I liked that time of the year, even as a teen, we came together as a family and the results were delicious. *drool*

  11. Ahh, the cherries look so beautiful and jewel-like…
    I’ve done a lot of fruit canning/jam making with blackberries, muscadines, damsons, etc. but not cherries. We can get sour cherry preserves and juice here (mostly from Poland or Armenia) at our local Middle Eastern market, but there’s no longer anywhere to get fresh, canned or frozen sour cherries for pie. Sigh.

    Wonderful photos.

  12. Too bad they can’t teleport those fresh cherries to DC. They’d bring about 20 times as much. Ummm, cherry pie. I’ve never found a restaurant that had any worth eating. You have to know a magician who knows how to make it. It can’t be mass produced. The crust is the key. If you think you know a restaurant that makes good pie, you probably have just never tasted the real thing.

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