Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And so it Begins

It's time. The cherries are ripe. All of the time spent wishing and waiting has paid off. The cherries are here. Our friend, Pam, gave us some of the most gorgeous Rainer cherries from Congdon Orchards. Aren't they beautiful?
We dusted off the old cherry pitter and set off to work, pitting every single cherry. At first it seems a little monotonous, but soon everyone got into the groove. It was definitely a team effort. Kaya had us covered with the de-stemming and rinsing, I pitted away, and Kale made sure the pits were out and transferred them to the bowl.

Soon we were done. There they are, our cherries ready to be processed into our Berry Cherry Jam, Spiced Cherries (I know they are Rainer cherries, but hey - why not?) and of course the freezer.
Canning is a feat in itself. Sanitizing and making sure everything is ready to go takes some practice. After lining up the sanitized jars, making sure there are enough brand new lids, and of course cooking the jam or cherries, don't forget the pectin!

I have been wanting to make this Berry Cherry Jam for a while now and figured this as good a time as any to do it. I had some left over strawberries frozen from last year and because we will be getting a new crop in soon, I thought we would just use those suckers up. The recipe I used was a low-sugar version, and it turned out just as sweet as could be. I don't think we will miss the sugar at all.

I also did spiced cherries. My kids really love these and they will eat entire jarfuls at a time. They are super easy to make, and you can put them over ice cream, pancakes, anything really. We tasted everything and it all turned out pretty good, phew!

When you have spent a day (really, 2 because of all of that pitting) canning, it is music to your ears to hear the sweet little "pops" of the vacuum seal doing its work. Thank goodness, all of our canning was worthwhile and we heard every single jar's "pop". Except for one.

There was just one mishap. When I was transferring this slippery fella from the waterbath to towel to cool, it slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground. Splashing its molten liquid all over my legs. Yowza!
After it was all said and done, we had 6 (well 5, plus the fallen) jars of Berry Cherry Jam and 9 jars of spiced cherries. Very good, I am happy with that.

Erika's Spiced Cherries

1 quart pitted Rainer Cherries from Congdon Orchards
3 cups of water (should cover most of cherries)
1 cup of sugar to taste
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon
3 or 4 drops of red food coloring

Mix all ingredients in a large pot. Bring water to a boil, stirring until the cherries are soft. Line up clean pint jars. Pour cherries into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Clean off the tops of the jars and adjust the 2 piece caps. Process in the waterbath for 15 minutes. Let cool. Listen for those sweet little "pop's". When you hear them, you know you're in business.

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