Sunday, July 29, 2012

Three Way Cherries

If you haven't been able to tell, I've been in a canning type mood lately.  I think just with all the fresh fruits and vegetables around, it makes me think of everything we miss out on during the cold winter months. 

Yesterday, a friend of mine brought over an absolutely gigantic bag of fresh Bing cherries.  Her husband found a great deal on them, so he picked them up for us to go on some more jamming adventures.  The first thing we decided to do with these beautiful cherries was to whip out a batch of fresh cherry jelly. I am so glad we did! It turned out so good. Much better than any cherry jelly I've had from the store by far. The recipe we used made 6 (8 oz.) jars of cherry jam, with just enough left over to enjoy over ice cream.  This jam is amazing!

After looking to see how many more cherries there were left, I decided we definitely needed to do something with them to keep them fresh.  I hadn't actually tried canning fruit before, just the jam, so the cherries became my experiment fruit for canning.

Following the normal procedures for canning, I first sterilized the jars.  After that, I stuffed the jars full of the pitted cherries, being careful not to fill them too full (You want the fruit completely submerged in the simple syrup).  I actually added a bit of a vanilla bean to each jar too, to add a slight vanilla bean taste to the cherries.  After that, fill the jars with simple syrup, leaving about 1/4" head space at the top of the jar. 

Then the jars were placed in the canner and boiled for about 15 minutes.  Then the jars were pulled and placed on the counter for 24 hours, to ensure the seal set correctly.

Even after making six jars of jam and six jars of canned cherries, there was a slight surplus of cherries.  With the last bit of cherries, I pitted them, and spread them over a cookie sheet and placed them in the freezer.

Once frozen, these were put into a freezer bag and sealed for later use. 

So there you have it.  Cherries, three different ways, ready for the winter months when cherries are either A) unavailable or B) too expensive to justify the purchase of said cherries.

Cherry Jam

3 cups finely chopped sweet cherries
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 box MCP Pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Measure out sugar into a bowl.  Set aside.

Prepare fruit by pitting and chopping into fine pieces.  Measure out the exact amount needed into a 6 or 8 ounce sauce pot.  Add the lemon, cinnamon, and pectin to the cherries.  Stirring constantly, cook the fruit mixture until it has reached a rolling boil. 

One a rolling boil has been reached, add the sugar and stir until there are not clumps.  Bring mixture back to a rolling boil.  Once it hits a rolling boil again, time it for one minute.

Once the minute has passed, remove mixture from heat and can immediately.

Canned Cherries

2 pounds sweet cherries
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups - 2 cups sugar
vanilla beans

Wash and pit your cherries. 

Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan.  Stir and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  Keep hot (But not boiling) while you prep your jars.

With clean hands, stuff as many cherries as you can get into each jar.  Fill to about 1/2" from the rim of the jar.  If you want to add vanilla to your cherries, add about a 1 inch piece of whole vanilla bean to the jar a s well.

Fill each jar with the hot syrup, stopping about 1/4" from the rim of the jar.  With a clean, hot, wet cloth, wipe the rims of the jars and place the sealers and lids on top.  Tighten with your hands.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Remove from the water bath, let cool, and listen for the pops.  To let the full flavor develop, let the jars rest a few weeks before digging in.  Refrigerate any jars that do not seal and enjoy immediately. 

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