Monday, July 15, 2013

Sour Cherries

It is cherry picking season.  It is time for cherry cobbler, cherry pie, or what ever your pleasure is.   Trouble is pitting the little beauties.  I’ll share a couple of things you can do with sour cherries if you have a tree or know someone that will share their bounty and I’ll also share ways to pit them.

Pitting Cherries

Choose fresh, ripe cherries. Rinse them with cool water, pat dry, and remove their stems.

Use a toothpick, un-bent paper clip, or, my favorite, orange stick (as for manicures), and insert into the stem-end of the cherry. You should feel it hit the pit.

Twist your implement of choice around the pit and pop it out. It will take you a few cherries to get the feel of it. Be patient, experiment a bit for the twisting motion that works best for you, and don't worry about the mangled mess those first few cherries may become – they'll still taste just as good.

There are a lot of cherry pickers you can buy.  Some very expensive, but very time saving.  You might want to check into some if you have a couple of trees.  A quick check of the internet will give you a big variety of them.  I loved this one because you do not have to deal with them individually. 

Here is a very inexpensive way to pit.  Use one of your tips for cake decorating.  

Cherry Pit Vinegar

Letting nothing go to waste, use your cherry pits to make cherry vinegar.  It is extremely  easy to make. Simply put 1/2 to 1 cup fresh cherry pits in a mason jar, fill with about 2 cups cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, cover, and set aside for at least a week and up to a month to let the cherry flavor blend into the vinegar.

Strain, discard pits, and use Cherry Pit Vinegar in salad dressings, in glazes, or mixed with sparkling water or club soda and a bit simple syrup (1 part water and 1 part water boiled until sugar dissolves) to taste for a refreshing soft drink.

Cherry Juice

I got this recipe from the Kerr Jar canning book.  Originally it was a grape juice recipe that I adapted. This is the only recipe I have used for making juice because it is so simple and kids love it. 
Wash one cup cherries with pits in, put into sterilized quart jar and add 1/2 cup sugar.  Fill to within 1/2 inch of top of jar with boiling water.  Put on cap, screwing the band firmly tight.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  When serving, just strain through a sieve.

Cherry Syrup

1 part water
1 part sugar
1 part cherries (you can keep pits in)

Boil all ingredients for five minutes (or long if you want a stronger flavor), let the mixture cool, strain out the solids and refrigerate the liquid. About one quarter of the liquid evaporates in the cooking process thickening it.  The longer you cook it, the thicker it will get.  If it gets too thick add a little more water to it.

Adjust the amount of fruit slightly based on how intense you want the flavor to be.

For a more subtle herb flavor when mixing fruit and herbs, don’t add the herb until the last minute. Then remove from heat and let steep for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired flavor. You can even add a sprig to the bottle or jar you’ll be storing it in to show what flavor it is.
Homemade syrup doesn’t keep as long as the commercial variety because there are no preservatives (that’s a good thing).  Store it in one of my favorite things, canning jars and you can label the lid with a Sharpie. 

Don't forget to use your Kerr or Ball canning book to can those cherries for this winter so you can use them year round. 

Have a great day, keep pitting and may God bless you and yours.  

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