Evans Cherries

KevinForest Gardening, From the Garden, Fruit from the Yard31 Comments

I’m sorry BC cherry growers, you can keep your bings. I was a newbie to Evans cherries last year when Mary Ellen and Andreas from Green Eggs & Ham mentioned we could help ourselves to their trees after volunteering to do some weeding and carrot harvesting, as they were too slammed with other harvest work to bother getting to them. They had lots. I picked about 20 lbs, and there was many, many, many times that there. Not knowing what to do with them, and having a fair fall load of work myself, I tossed them in a stockpot and cooked them down, strained them, and ended up with a shockingly tasty syrup. Fantastic in sparkling water, or to replace purchased juice for my kids. This year’s hookup is courtesy of Maki, who lives down the street and offered. I’ll be planting my own tree in the spring.

If you’ve tried Evans cherries from the tree and thought ‘ick, holy sour and no flavor‘, I don’t blame you, but implore you to simply cook them with a little sugar to balance the acidity. The flavor that comes from these things is intense, unique, and beautiful. All the cherry awesomeness you could ask for, and more. I’m not sure I’ve encountered a single fruit that intensifies its flavor so much through cooking – you have to try it. I can’t wait for the cherry pie.

If you’re not sure where to get hooked up, Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton‘s volunteers will have a crack at some rescued fruit in the coming week or two. Some U-Picks around the province have them too. Or plant your own tree in the spring, like me.

ps. Kudos to Liane for advocating for cooking with fire in the Edmonton Journal today – glad I could help out.

31 Comments on “Evans Cherries”

  1. Evelyn

    I planted two Evans Cherry sticks in my yard last year. Only one survived the winter, but the other looks like it will be okay. I wonder how many years it will be before I have my own cherries. This year I had access to a hedge of cherries (something developed in Saskatchewan) and made many jars of canned cherries. I totally forgot to dry any, but if I have access through OFRE, that will be my next process. And syrup sounds good too.

  2. Sheila Z

    Sour cherries out shine sweet ones in any cooked recipe. I focus on sours exclusively for my major winter stash.

  3. Robin-Taine B

    I’ve been eyeing a neighbourhood tree, not quite sure if they were edible. I “stole” one this morning after reading your post. They are awesome! Not too sweet, but not terribly sour. I’ll be offering some kind of trade soon!

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past six months. I can’t believe the font of information you have to offer. What kind of resources (books, etc) do you use? You should consider compiling this blog into some sort of book. I would absolutely line up to purchase!

  4. Kevin

    Evelyn – I’ve been surprised how little time it takes for the trees to mature. I’ve often thought I was looking at a 10 year old tree that was really only 3-5 years old. Drying is on my list too.
    Sheila – Glad it’s not just me!
    Robin-Taine – glad you could find a source, hopefully your neighbor is willing to share. Always nice to hear from readers, so thanks for leaving a comment! I think the internet would be by far my biggest resource, next would be the library – I also do a pile of learning by doing. The book thing has come up frequently – we’ll see, one day maybe.

  5. Duncan Kinney


    I have an Evans (Evan’s?) Cherry in my backyard, it’s only been in the ground there for two seasons, is about 5 feet tall and has fruited impressively this summer.

  6. The Kitchen Magpie

    I LOVE Evans cherries, a tree or two is on the list for the new backyard. I find them lovely fresh from the tree and I also find that people never give sour cherries long enough on the tree. Let them get almost TOO ripe and they are sweet as can be! We just aren’t patient enough.

    I finally had some Crimson Passion cherries on my small little bush and they were so sweet! I am very much into the bush cherries out there, they don’t take the committment of trees for space and the U of Sask varieties all winter here perfectly.

  7. Evelyn

    Kevin and Duncan: Yay! I’ll be looking forward to cherries soon then. In the meantime, I do hope to pick with OFRE. I haven’t seen much activity with them yet this year.

  8. Brandy

    Hi Kevin,
    We just moved into a house last September that has 2 very established
    Evans Cherry trees and last year I let the neighbour pick them and
    he baked us a fabulous pie. However I see we have a lovely crop
    this year and I was wondering what to do with them- so thanks for
    your ideas!! Just wondering when the cherries should be picked?
    Also do you have a recipe you are willing to share for your syrup?

  9. Kevin

    Brandy – depends a bit on your microclimate, but right about now into mid-august they’ll be ready to go.

    Recipe. Heh. I never use them. But roughly speaking, maybe 1/4 part sugar to fruit by weight?

  10. A Canadian Foodie

    My Evan’s cherry has very little fruit this year. Last year the entire tree was covered with blossoms and then wind blew them away. I am hoping for next year. How many pounds did you get? Anyone reading this with extra – definitely call me!
    I pick. I share.

  11. Diana

    Does anyone know if Evans cherry seedlings [of which I have MANY!] will produce fruit true to type? I completely agree with The Kitchen Magpie – you really do have to let them get dark, dark red. If you pick them when they’re bright red I find that the pits tend to want to stay on the tree!
    Our favourite way to use them is in a clafouti,[lind of like crepe batter with sugar, baked in a pie plate] which I had never even heard of until recently. The sour cherries are really great in it.

  12. KKozak

    We discovered a fantastic kitchen tool for processing Evan’s Cherries. It’s a steamer/juicer that sits on your stove and steams open your fruit, collects the juice and leaves all the flesh/pulp/seeds in the basket…no pitting or destemming. The juice comes out so hot that you could pour it right into a sterilized sealer and it’ll seal itself! We found that we needed to reduce the juice a little bit in order to get a stronger cherry flavor, but it’s worth the effort.

  13. Barb

    I have a question re Evans Cherry. I have 2 trees, about 13 years old and they have produced very well although they have never sent up a sucker.(??) But my mother in laws trees, planted the same year have hardly produced a cherry. They bloom but do not produce. What are we doing wrong?

  14. Kevin

    Barb – not sure, to be honest. Only item I can see having an impact if they do in fact bloom but not produce is pollinators. Other than that, you’ve got me stumped.

  15. Fe

    BARB, for 3 seasons my cherry trees were like your mother-in-law’s. Lots of flowers but no viable cherries. They all dropped off prematurely. This season, I finally got a lot of cherries!! From what I know the Evans tree is a self pollinator so, I think your tree might just take few more seasons to mature (to support viability of fruits). The other factor might be water. We had so much rain this year, it might have help. Not sure if this is a factor.
    Good luck!

  16. brendi

    Try making a cherry cobbler, absolutely lucious. Or cheey ice cream, very intense flavour.

  17. Dawn

    my Evan cherrys after 5 yrs of only flowers have finally produced many many cherries. ???? what do I do with them now? how to I save them? freeze them whole? put them first then freeze? boil them? I have no idea. I would like to make a jam, but would also like to keep some for desserts? Any ideas of saving them would be great thank you

  18. Kevin

    We pit as many as we can tolerate, and use those for desserts. If you freeze them whole you can use them for sauces afterwards – we make lots of bbq sauce with the cherries. Cherry jam is stunning. Enjoy!

  19. Ernie

    a neabour has lots of evans cherries on his trees he said i can take as many as i want how do i bake them and how do i can them
    thank you Ernie

  20. Kerry Gordey

    My Evans cherry has been in the ground for 3 years now bought about 4 or 5 feet high. It has a ooze coming from a wound on the trunk and a main scaffold branch. It suffered a fair bit of die back up here in the Peace Country, is it possible that is would be fire blight. I know it is of the Prunus family but I thought cherries were not very suciptable. I appreciate any feedback on them.

  21. Charles


    Sounds like your Cherry tree has gommosis, a disease which affects stone fruits. The disease usually means your tree is under stress. The tree could be suffering from lack of moisture, damage to the roots etc. The simple way to remedy the situation is to both prune out the affected areas with pruners that are cleaned with something like Lysol after each cut and then rectify whatever is ailing the tree.

  22. Jo Mar

    This would not affect the. Fruit would it? We have still been eating them and now wonder if it is safe to do so.

  23. julia

    At least one person has asked about what to do with Evans cherries; pit them before freezing or cooking them, lest you bite into a delicious but very expensive cherry.

    Last year we packed a gallon jar with these (pitted) beauties (the Evans, not the dental work), then poured vodka in to fill up the spaces. The result was a rosy, cherry-scented (real, not cough syrup), delicious elixir that, with carbonated water, is a perfect summer spritzer.

    Now, my question -has anyone made wine with Evans cherries? If so, do you have a basic recipe? And did you get two runs out of one batch of cherries? Thanks.

  24. Colleen

    Thanks to this post, I was able to enjoy my Evans cherries for the first time ever! Had no idea how much cooking them down could bring out the flavor as it does. Now I’m making cherry jelly and syrup for spritzers. Delicious! Incidentally, for anyone else reading who might be interested, I came across this post while looking for info on why my tree was dropping fruit, prematurely, before it ripened. I’ve learned that this happens when the tree produces more fruit than it can support and bring to ‘fruition’. It’s called intentional fruit drop. It happened two years in a row to my tree and I thought it had a pest or disease of some sort. But no, just healthy and fruitful….TOO fruitful.

  25. Bert

    Hi Julia
    I have made wine from the evens as well as the U of S sour cherries it is very good i would only do one run for best results . i have about 22 evens trees and 20 u of s cherry bushes but the best beverage i have made is a sour cherry liqueur made by letting the cherries and sugar ferment in the sun for a couple of weeks than adding vodka i also add some cherry juice from the same cherries and a piece of cinnamon stick and some hole cherries when i bottle it do not pit the cherries . i found this by Googleing sour cherry brandy it is called visinata if you find a site called pragmatic attic you are all set .Warning visinata is VERY VERY GOOD and it is hard to only have one glass . good luck

  26. Kathy

    We planted an Evan Cherry tree two years ago. Last year it had probably about 15 cherries on it. We picked them and I tossed them in with a cherry pie that I made (canned pied filling, sorry). This year however we had a lot more cherries on it. I’ve picked the really red ones before the birds got them. Haven’t done anything with them yet, thinking I might freeze them for later. My sister-in-law had one and she loved it. Her daughter-in-law also has one and she said she makes wonderful crisps with the cherries. I’m anxious to try them. I’ll let you know how they turn out.

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