Friday, July 29, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Cherries

As we make our way through summer, we must say goodbye to cherries, the first fruits that brought in the wonderful season, and make room for the new ones. I guess I am funny about cherries. I can't wait for them to get here, but after a few weeks of gorging myself, I am done. I have had a bag of cherries in my fridge for about two weeks now, and I kept wondering what I should do with them before they go bad. I didn't want to make anymore canned Spiced Cherries or Berry Cherry Jam, but I have been intrigued by the thought of making Cherry Butter. Doesn't that just sound delicious? I did some research in my canning cookbooks and came up short, so I went to the internet. I found one recipe, and used it (for the most part), and my results were pretty darn good if I do say so. I made two batches; the first I overcooked in the initial simmering step which resulted in a delicious, dark intense flavor that would pair well with dark chocolate, and the second I cooked just right and added in some cinnamon and nutmeg at the end, and it tasted just as delicious, but much brighter and fruitier. I have been asked what to do with the cherry butter once it is made, and my answer is ANYTHING! It would go great on toast or biscuits, on ice cream, on a cake or cupcake as icing or as a secret treat inside, put it in a pastry... you get my drift.

You can find the original recipe here, but I have condensed it down in the following recipe to make it easier to read and follow.

Cherry Butter

4 or 5 Quarts Pitted Cherries (fresh or frozen work)
Fruit Juice (1 cup per pound of cherries)
Cinnamon and Nutmeg, if you prefer
Half-Pint Jars and Lids for Canning (2 quarts of cherries produced 2 half-pint jars of cherry butter)

Special Equipment
Food Mill
Cherry Pitter

1. Wash, de-stem and pit all cherries.

2. Put cherries in a large, heavy pot with fruit juice. (If you dont have a scale to measure how many pounds of cherries you have, add enough juice to almost cover all the cherries.)

3. Bring pot to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, until cherries are very tender.

4. After cherries are tender, run them through a food mill placed over another pot.

5. Add sugar and spices, if you prefer. The amount of sugar you add depends on your preference. I added 1/3 cup sugar to 2 quarts of cherries and felt that it was too sweet. You don't have to add any sugar if you don't want to. Taste the pulp and determine the amount of sugar you need from there.

6. Bring pulp to a simmer, cover with lid slightly ajar, and reduce pulp to consistency you like.

7. Wash jars in hot, soapy water. Leave jars in water until ready to use.

8. Put jar lids in a saucepan and add enough water to cover lids by 1/2 inch. Bring to a simmer.

9. Once oven is ready, ladle cherry butter into jars. Using a plastic cooking utensil handle or knife, push handle through butter to release any air pockets.

10. Run damp rag around the edge of the jars. Take a lid from the saucepan and place squarely on jar. Tighten with jar ring until just tight.

11. Place jars in waterbath 20 minutes.

12. Remove and let sit on counter until cooled and the jars seal (the little dimple on top of the jar lid will make a clicking sound and remain depressed when sealed.


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