Tag Archives: sour cherries

Cherry Vanilla-Bean Jam

I’m guilty of having a draft box full of unfinished posts.  There are times during the year where I have too much going on to sit down and write!  Other times, I’m just too darn tired!  And it’s usually the latter! ;)  Now that the crush-window of my harvest preservation has passed, I’ve found myself reviewing those neglected (but not forgotten) posts.

I try to keep my posts as seasonally appropriate as possible.  Since it is Spring in Australia, cherries will soon be in season.  Forever the optimist, it’s always Summer somewhere!

Cherry Vanilla-Bean Jam - yields approximately 5 half-pints

4 cups pitted cherries (I use and prefer sour cherries, but sweet will work just the same.)

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

1 cup cherry juice

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice **only if you are using sweet cherries**

2 Madagascar vanilla beans

1 tsp pure almond extract

3 Tbsp flex-batch pectin

Pit cherries over a bowl to catch all that wonderfully delicious juice!  If you want to prevent oxidation where the pit was removed, sprinkle on a bit of Fruit Fresh.

Place pitted cherries in a food processor and pulse several times to chop them up; do not purée them.  I first tried to mash them with a potato masher, but found that method to work best with softer fruits, like strawberries and peaches.

Split vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  In a large stainless steel sauce pot, combine cherries, cherry juice, lemon juice if using sweet cherries, and vanilla seeds.  Reserve 1/4 cup sugar to mix with the pectin (this helps to prevent pectin from clumping when added to the hot fruit), add the remaining 1-1/4 cups to the fruit mixture and stir well.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; stir in almond extract.  Add sugar-pectin mix to fruit and stir to incorporate.  Bring jam to a hard boil, one that cannot be stirred away, and cook for one minute.  Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized half-pint jars; wipe rims, adjust 2-piece lids to fingertip-tight and process in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes.  Remove jars and allow to cool, undisturbed, on a wire rack for 12-24 hours.  Check seals, remove rings, and store in a cool, dry place for one year.

Be sure to give this jam a good stir before using, since most of the vanilla seeds tend to settle on the bottom of the jar!

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Jam & Jelly, Vegan, Vegetarian

Summer Berry Granola

I’d like to introduce you to the latest addition in my morning granola rotation: Summer Berry!  Yes, I know, sour cherries are not technically a berry, but the title “triple fruit” did absolutely nothing for me!

Summer Berry Granola

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup flax seeds
1 cup slivered almonds, raw
1 cup black walnut pieces, raw
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, raw
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
a pinch of salt
a sprinkling of cinnamon
a sprinkling of vanilla powder
Toast the oats in a 9×13 pan for 15 minutes at 300°F, stirring once.  In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients and whisk until well blended.  Remove the toasted oats from the oven and add remaining dry ingredients, except for the fruit, cinnamon and vanilla.  Stir until combined, then evenly pour the oil-sugar mixture into the pan stirring well to make sure everything is well coated.
Place pan back in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until granola starts to brown around the edges, stirring once or twice.  Be careful to not overbake your granola when using flax seeds.  Not only will flax lose its beneficial health properties when over heated, but it will also develop a smoky flavor.  Add dried fruit and stir.  Top off with a sprinkling of cinnamon and vanilla.  Allow to cool completely before placing into containers for storage.

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Dehydrating Cherries

Several weeks ago I picked sour cherries for the first time.  Since I had yet to preserve this fruit, I decided to try out various methods not knowing which would end up as my favorite.  With the exception of cherry pie filling (because I LOVE pie), dried cherries have definitely won that title!

Sour cherries on their own are packed full of flavor; once you dehydrate them, it takes the intensity level to a whole other playing field!

Dehydrated Sour Cherries

Wash cherries, remove pits and stems.  Arrange in a single layer on dehydrator trays and place on recommended fruit/veggie setting.  I have an American Harvest and the temp for fruit is 135°F.  Cherries,  like strawberries, are mainly water, so it will take quite some time for them to finish.  I checked mine every 2-3 hours and removed the raisin-like cherries as they were ready.  I believe the total drying time was around 12-14 hours.  Store cherries in an airtight container.

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Sour Cherry Vinaigrette

I haven’t used store-bought dressings in years.  Why would you want to buy something that is so easy to make right in your kitchen?  I’m a big fan of vinaigrettes and usually whip one up featuring the current seasonal fruit.  Since cherrypalooza has been taking place in my kitchen it only seemed appropriate to dress my summer salad with a sour cherry vinaigrette!

Sour Cherry Vinaigrette  This is my go-to base when making any vinaigrette.

1/2 cup pitted and destemmed sour cherries

2 tbsp honey or agave

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 c neutral oil such as canola or vegetable

salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a tall container and puree with an immersion blender.  You can also combine everything in the bowl of a food processor.  If you don’t have either, chop cherries into very small pieces and whisk everything together.  Store any unused dressing in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I’m down to the last of my home-grown salads for a while.  The one pictured above consisted of flame lettuce, broccoli, cream sausage tomatoes, carrots, peas and beets.  I sprinkled on some feta, walnuts and sunflower seeds too.  I’m going to seed some of my large containers with Tom Thumb lettuce.  I never do well container gardening since they dry out so fast, but I’m going to give it another try.  Tom Thumb is pretty heat tolerant, so if I position the containers where they only receive morning sun they may be okay!

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Filed under Spices & Sauces, Vegetarian

Hi Ho Cherry-O

With the end of one beloved red fruit begins the start of another!  As if the picture isn’t a dead giveaway, I’m talking about cherries!  The first to ripen are sweet cherries.  Sour cherries (my favorite) shortly follow.  Then just as quickly as they come they go!  Last week, I made two trips to Cherry Hill Orchards and managed to pick 23 pounds of sour cherries and fall out of a tree… technically I was knocked out of it by a New Yorker in his land-yacht of an SUV!  But fall from the tree I did!

You can see from the picture above that cars actually drive through the orchard; I’m guessing that must be where overflow parking is.  So I’m on one of the tall ladders all up in the tree and this guy comes barreling down the path.  I’m guessing his side view or tire caught the edge of my ladder because down I went!  Thankfully my cat-like reflexes kicked in and I landed on my feet.  Dude never stopped or slowed down…I’m guessing he had no idea what happened.  Seriously, YOU’RE IN AN ORCHARD, slow down!

Now, I’m sure you may (or may not) be asking yourself what ever does one do with 23 pounds of sour cherries?  Why one makes cherry pie filling, jams, ice cream, pie, turnovers, scones, salad dressing, and dehydrates them of course!   You can see I’ve been a very busy little bee!

Cherry Pie, the Fillingadapted from USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving

I tripled the quart instructions (which is allowed) and omitted the cinnamon and red food dye to make 6 pints.  In actuality, it ended up being more like 9 pints so I canned 6, froze 2, and baked turnovers and a pie, since I only had 6 sterilized jars at the ready!

10 cups sour cherries, pits and stems removed

3 cups sugar

3/4 cup + 3 tbsp clear jell (use the cook type, not the instant)

4 cups cold water

4 tbsp bottled lemon juice

3/4 tsp almond extract

Rinse and pit fresh cherries, and hold in cold water.  I pinched mine the night before so I didn’t put them in water.  If you want to prevent them from browning where the stem was removed (I never do), you can treat them with some absorbic acid or Fruit Fresh.  Place the cherries in a gallon of boiling water 6 cups at a time and boil for one minute once water returns to a boil.  Drain but keep them heated in a covered bowl or dish.  For this step, I heated my enamel-covered cast iron dutch oven at 200° F for about 15 minutes, worked great!  Combine the sugar and clear jell with water in a large pot and add water and almond extract.  Stir the mixture and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil one minute, stirring constantly.  Fold in drained cherries immediately and fill hot jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1″ headspace.  Adjust 2 piece lids to fingertip-tight and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes or your recommended altitude processing time.

Cherry Pie, the Crust - adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1943 edition

1-3/4 C pastry flour

1 C spelt flour

1/2 C whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp spectrum shortening

2 tbsp butter

1/4 C ice water

In a large bowl, sift flours, salt, and baking powder; cut in butter and shortening with a pastry knife (or two forks) stopping when mixture resembles a course mix about the size of a pea.  Sprinkle 3 tbsp of ice water over the dough and blend it lightly.  If the dough can be gathered into a ball, don’t add any more water.  If not, continue sprinkling ice water one tablespoon at a time.  Try to not overwork your dough as this brings out the gluten and makes your pie crust tough.  Divide the dough into two balls, one being about 2/3 of the dough; this will be the bottom crust, the smaller one will be the top crust.  Place each ball of dough between two layers of wax paper and roll out into a disk.  Place the disks in the fridge for an hour.  After the dough has chilled, roll them out and place the large one into your pie plate, add pie filling, then add the top crust.  Pinch your edges together and cut several slits or X’s into the top to vent the steam.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450°F for 30 minutes.

I actually didn’t make my pie this way.  Instead, I made turnovers.  After about 8 turnovers, I got tired of messing with the dough so I used the rest to bake up a small pie.  Since my pie was so small, I only baked it for 15 minutes, like I did with the turnovers.

As you can tell by the picture, the pie was good.  Like, really, really good.  So good that I ate the entire pie without taking a picture.  In my gluttonous defense, this particular piece of pottery is rather small and quite shallow, it held about a jelly jars worth of filling… and I ate said pie in 2 days, not one.

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Filed under Baking, Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Vegetarian