Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cherries: The Classics

"Cherry, ripe, ripe, ripe I cry.
Full and fair ones come and buy."  Robert Herrick

Cherries, sweet or sour, are delicious each in their own way.  The sweet cherry is a dense little nugget of explosive sweetness.  On the other hand, the sour cherry is a puckering mouthful of goodness.  Either way, you cannot go wrong when it comes to cherries.  When winter arrives and you head to your pantry in your woolen socks and thermal long johns looking for something full of flavor  with a remembrance of summer dancing in your head, you are gonna thank yourself for taking the time to put up these two classic cherry preserves.  They are gonna "do cartwheels in your mouth" (Tigress in a Jam) and you are gonna remember that "hope springs eternal" and summer will shine its lovely warmth all over us again.  All this from one little cherry.....

As an aside, both recipes can be made from either sour or sweet cherries.  Two totally different tastes, yet both filled with the glory of summer days...
Simple Suspended Sour Cherry

Ingredients:
1 pound of cherries for each pint jar you are making (I used 4 pounds)
6 cups water
1 cup sugar

Instructions:
1.  Rinse and pit the cherries.  If you have never heard of a cherry pitter, now is the time to meet its acquaintance.  It will definitely be your best friend if you are making these two lovely recipes.  The cherry pitter will save you untold time in getting those pesky little pits out of your lovely cherries.  You can check out the OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter, which is the one that I use.

2.  Heat water in a small saucepan.  Add sugar and stir in hot water til dissolved. Bring the water to a boil for one minute.  Return heat to low and allow simple sugar syrup to simmer until time to put into your jars.

3.  Fill each jar with cherries to the rim.  While filling, tap jar on a towel covered counter to help cherries settle, then add more cherries to fill the jar completely.  Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch headspace.

4.  Place 2 cherry pits into each jar.  If there is any remaining cherry juice in the bottom of the bowl, pour it into the simple sugar syrup.  Pour simple sugar syrup into the jars over the cherries, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.

5.  Seal jars with lids and rings.  Process in a hot water bath canner, (Granite Ware 11-1/2 Quart Covered Preserving Canner with Rack) for 25 minutes beginning your timer when the water comes to a full boil.


Simple Cherry Preserves

Ingredients:
For every three pounds of cherries, you will need:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 pint mason jars

(Each pound of cherries makes approximately 1 cup of cherry preserves.)

Instructions:

1.  Prepare jars for hot water bath processing.

2.  Rinse and pit cherries (OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter).

3.  Place cherries in a stainless steel or enameled iron pot.  Crush about 1/2 of cherries to release their juice using a potato masher or just your fingers.

4.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  Heat on low until the sugar has dissolved stirring gently.  Bring cherries to a boil for approximately 25 minutes until desired set has been achieved.

(To test for set:  Place a teaspoon of preserve on a frozen plate.  Place plate into freezer for one minute.  Take plate out of freezer.  Push fingertip through preserve and look to see if the preserve wrinkles.  If it wrinkles at all, it is ready to put into the jars.  If your fingertip slides through easily, boil the preserves for one minute more and repeat test.)

5.  Seal jars with lids and rings.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Allow to rest on counter for 24 hours before storing in a cool, dark pantry.

These two recipes are adapted from tigress in a jam at www.tigressinajam.blogspot.com.

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