Sunday, June 13, 2010

Apparently, it has been a difficult season for cherries…the cold weather lasting clear into the end of May caused the cherries (according to the farmers at the farmers market) to be two weeks late to ripen. Then just after they started to ripen, it rained, which again according to the farmers, was very scary since the ripened fruit will split open if it is rained on! Well, somehow we (‘me and the farmers’) managed to make it through and the cherries at the market are beautiful and none the worse for wear…so ever seeking to prolong the season I decided it would be fun to can some cherries, both for pies etc. as well as some brandied ones that could be used as hostess gifts or such. I struck a deal with one of the cherry farmers and purchased an eighteen pound box of Bing Cherries.
 I brought them home and set up a little pitting station on the dining room table. When looking at that big box of cherries I was a little concerned that I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I was pleased that the pitting went quickly – I have a little pitter that does four cherries at once so I made pretty quick work of box contents…my nails and cuticles are now an amazing color of black/red that won’t wash off but what the heck…
Once the cherries were ready I made a light syrup – ¾ cup sugar to 6 cups water. It is suggested that you heat the cherries in the hot syrup until they are heated through, then put them into hot jars (I used quart sized for the pie cherries) with ½” head space, REMEMBER to remove the air bubbles by running a knife or chop stick around the inside of the jar, clean the jar rim and put on the lid. Put the jars in your canning pot covered with boiling water and once the water is at a rolling boil, process the quarts for 20 minutes… Now, while the pie cherries were happily boiling away it was time for the brandied cherries. I put 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and ¼ cup lemon juice into a large sauce pan and brought it to a boil, then reduced it to a simmer, added cherries and heated them through. I removed the pot from the heat and stirred in 1 ¼ cups brandy. Now for these guys I used pint jars – don’t want folks, myself included, getting too boozed up on cherries – putting the hot cherries into hot jars, removing the air, cleaning the rims, blah, blah, blah and you’re ready to process.
By now the pie cherries were ready to be removed from the heat, so conveniently, I could just pop the brandied cherries into the canning pot, get the water boiling again and process the pints for 10 minutes…when all was said and done I had 8 quarts of pie cherries and 6 pints of brandied cherries! Not bad for a Sunday afternoon…they are so pretty, I may just have to crack one open and make a pie really soon!

1 comment:

  1. My mom used to can bing cherries every year--that and June berries which often did not make it to the canning pot because Nature finished them off one way or another. I guess that's why they were so wonderful when they did. I don't think Mom pitted the cherries--she didn't have that kind of patience; pitting peaches was about as far as she was prepared to go. You are the best. Sonja