The 10 Pound Cherry Challenge

two pounds of cherries

Earlier in the summer, I canned my way through two flats of rain-split sweet cherries from Beechwood Orchards. I made butter, chutney, this batch of sweet and sour cherry jam, rosemary pickled cherries, and cherry lime preserves (hmm, doesn’t look like I’ve posted that recipe anywhere). When all that was done, I took a deep breath and figured I was done with cherries for the season.

OXO cherry pitter

Then, along came a chance to participate in the 10 Pound Cherry Challenge that OXO was hosting in conjunction with the Northwest Cherry Growers. And despite a little schedule insanity, I just couldn’t say no.

cherries in an OXO bowl

And so, mere moments before I was leaving for my trip to Boston last week, I took delivery of ten pounds of sweet, lovely cherries and a box of OXO goodies, including their 11 pound scale, a set of their nesting bowls and colanders, and two cherry pitters.

cherry clafoutis

I took a few of the cherries with me as a road trip snack, and stashed the rest in the fridge. While I was away (the trip was all of 2 1/2 days, so the cherries held just fine), I started imagining all the ways I could use and preserve them. I got home late on Saturday night, but was up early Sunday morning to pit the first pound for a quick clafoutis.

rum and sweet cherries

If you’ve not had one before, this traditionally French dessert resembles a Dutch baby or a firmly set custard. If you’re hewing closely to the way it’s done in France, you do not pit cherries before using them in this dessert. I prefer serving a version that uses pitted cherries, because it doesn’t endanger the dental work of your guests and just makes for a more pleasant eating experience.

pouring rum

However, once the clafoutis was done, I ran out of steam. You see, we did the photo shoot for my next cookbook last Monday through Thursday and I had four nights of teaching and speaking last week as well. By the time Friday came along, I was entirely spent, my apartment was wrecked, and I had a to-do list a mile long. So I did three things.

I shared two pounds of cherries (and one of the OXO pitters) with my friend and cookbook editor Kristen (she just happens to be an avid preserver and lives just a couple miles from me). I funneled four pounds into a roomy slow cooker and started another batch of sweet cherry butter (a little more never hurts). And I took a cue from Maggie Battista of Eat Boutique fame (who put me up while I was in Boston) and started a batch of cherry-infused rum.

last drops of rum

Maggie had several jars of fruit-infused spirits sitting prettily in her kitchen while I was there and I couldn’t help but realize that it had been awhile since I’d combined fruit and booze to good effect. And so, I rummaged through our liquor cabinet until I came up with a bottle of light rum that I thought would benefit from a little fresh cherry flavor. I stemmed the remaining cherries, tumbled them into a pretty jar and covered them with rum. Not the most inventive thing ever, but it sure will make for a tasty tipple when the days get chilly.

If you’re interested in seeing what some of the other 10 Pound Cherry Challenge participants did with their cherries, here’s who else was playing along:

For more on the challenge, make sure to check out OXO (Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram) and the Northwest Cherry Growers (Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram). And, for even more cherry goodness, there’s also a project-specific Pinterest board.

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Spicy Peach and Yellow Tomato Jam

yellow tomatoes and peaches

I made this jam back before my trip to Portland and have been meaning to share it ever since. It came to be thanks to an impulse purchase at Reading Terminal Market, just days before I was set to fly. Many of the produce stands there bag up their rapidly ripening produce and sell them for a buck a bag.

When you buy one of the discounted sacks, you know what you’re getting. It’s soft, sweet, and needs to be used within a day. I did not need another canning project in that moment, but I could not resist the deal of getting more than five pounds of jammable produce for $4.

filling hex jars

This is a honey sweetened jam that gets a set boost from Pomona’s Pectin. I’m finding myself moving more and more towards honey, maple sugar, and fruit juice concentrates for sweetening. I feel better when I use less refined sweeteners for my everyday preserves and am starting to save the sugar sweetened ones for special occasions. Such is the evolution of life and tastebuds, I guess.

six hex jars filled with peach and tomato jam

I think of this as a fairly spicy jam, because I added two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger and 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes. However, I realize that for those of you who like something with a more powerful kick, this is going to taste fairly bland. Feel free to adjust the red chili flake upwards a bit or add a generous dash of cayenne. I don’t want anyone disappointed by my wimpy spice tolerance.

a tiny hex jar of jam

Finally, you might notice that this product is preserved in the six-sided jam jars that close with lug lids. If you’re curious about them, make sure to read the piece I wrote about how to use them a few weeks back.

And just one more thing! The idea to combine tomatoes and peaches in a jam was originally planted in my mind by a recipe in Breakfast for Dinner. Though I didn’t follow their recipe at all, this is the second time I’ve made something really good that was inspired by that book.

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August 17 is National Can-It-Forward Day!

canning dilly beans

Judging by the number of peaches and tomatoes currently in my apartment, we are nearing the pinnacle of the canning season. In order to celebrate this season of abundance, Ball is throwing a little party. The third annual National Can-It-Forward Day will be taking place on Saturday, August 17.

They’re going to be streaming a free, live webcast from the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City from 10 am to 2 pm. Hosted by the Food Network’s Ted Allen, the day will feature a variety of preserving, entertaining, and DIY demos. If you happen to be in NYC that day, make sure to head over and catch the festivities live. Everyone else can tune in at Ball’s Fresh Preserving website.

What’s more, Ball invites home canners from across the country to throw their own canning parties and gatherings next Saturday and share their pictures and recipes on the Ball Facebook page.

The only reason I won’t be in New York for this canning extravaganza next week is that I’m teaching a giant tomato canning workshop that day at Blooming Glen Farm, in Perkasie, PA. There are still a bunch of spaces available, so sign up today!

 

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Autographed Copies of Food in Jars Available Through Provisions

provisions fij

Earlier today, Food52 officially launched Provisions. It’s an online shop stocked with an array of truly lovely kitchen tools, linens, dishware, and artisanal edibles. They launched with a handful of product collections and I do believe that there’s one that may be of particular interest to many of you.

Called Small Batch: Jamming, this collection includes the new blue glass heritage jars, a handy canning kit, a gorgeous vintage copper jam pan, and signed copies of my cookbook. I’m hand packing and shipping every copy that’s ordered through Provisions, which means if you’ve wanted to have one with a personalized note and I haven’t gotten to your town yet, now’s your chance. I’m ready to write notes, make recipe suggestions and otherwise inscribe a book just for you. We’re only selling 100 autographed copies through Provisions (and 20 have already been ordered), so if you want one, I suggest placing your order soon!

 

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Blackberry Sage Jam Story and Recipe on the Driscoll’s + Berry Coupon Giveaway

Driscoll's Blackberries

Back in the spring, I had a really fun (albeit brief) trip to California thanks to the folks at Driscoll’s berries (I wrote about the trip and all the berry tidbits I learned here). When I got back home, they asked if I’d be willing to write a post and recipe for their blog, featuring some of their berries. Because blackberries are one of my true fruit loves (I well and truly gorged myself on them when I was in Portland a week ago), I wrote about my childhood, picking blackberries in an open field near our house and going home to make jam with my mom. The post and recipe are now live on Driscoll’s site.

making blackberry jam

Because Driscoll’s is all about sharing the berry love, they’re hosting a little giveaway with me here today. I have five sets of berry coupons valued at $15 a piece to give away to away to my readers. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite berry memory. Any memory will do!
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, August 9, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random (using random.org) and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, August 11, 2013.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Driscoll’s is providing the berry coupons for this giveaway. What’s more, they are paying me for the blog post and recipe I developed for them. However, all my opinions remain my own. 

Upcoming Classes and Events: Brooklyn! Marple Township! Perkasie!

class image revised

August is here and the tomatoes are coming! Here are some of the places you’ll find me in the next few weeks! I’ll be talking jam, vinegar pickles and lots of tomatoes, so don’t miss it!

  •  August 7 – Jam class at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Brooklyn, NY. Last I heard, there were still four spots available in this hands-on class. We’ll make two kinds of nectarine jam, one with Pomona’s Pectin, and one batch without any additional pectin at all. 
  • August 8 – Free canning demo and book signing at the Marple Township Library in Broomall, PA. Festivities start at 7 pm. Click here for more info.
  • August 10 – Pickles at Indy Hall! This class will focus on vinegar-based pickles. A deeply hands-on class, students will make quick cucumber and preserved green bean pickles and will take both varieties home to compare and contrast. There are just two spots left in this class. First come, first serve!
  • August 12 – Free jam and water bath canning demo at the Santore Library in South Philadelphia. The demo starts at 6 pm. More information is here
  • August 15 – Tomato canning workshop at Reading Terminal Market. This event is sold out!
  • August 17 – A massive tomato canning workshop at Blooming Glen Farm in Perkasie, PA. I’m going to set up a bunch of burners and we’ll can enough tomatoes for everyone to take home 2-3 quarts (final yield will depend on how much we’re able to get through that day). It costs $75 and will be a sweaty, fun, productive day. Click here to sign up.
  • August 18 – Canning demo and book signing at Wyebrook Farm, with a few tastes of preserves from my pantry. I’ll make a batch of spiced plum jam and will have books to sign. The event starts at 2 pm. Click here to sign up.
  • August 20 – Spicy Tomato Chutney class from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods Market. Click here to sign up!
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