Tag Archives | Northwest Cherry Growers

Sweet Cherry Butter

 

Back at the end of June, I got a shipment of sweet cherries from the folks at the Northwest Cherry Growers. They sent them as part of their annual Canbassador program (here’s my round-up from last year). I made a number of things from those cherries, including this Sweet Cherry Balsamic Jam, some Cherry Chutney, and a batch of Cherry Kompot.

When all that was complete, I still had about five pounds of cherries left. I washed them well, took off the stems, and heaped them in a pot with a cup of water. I brought it to a simmer and cooked the cherries just until they were soft enough that I could pinch out the pits. Once all the pits were out, I poured the cherry pulp into a slow cooker, zapped it with an immersion blender and cooked it down until it had reduced by about half. I zapped it again, added a little sugar to taste (enough for balance, but not so much that it was cloying).

Processed in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes, this collection of five jars will be used this winter in bar cookies and on toast spread thickly with ricotta. It recalls the dense cherry preserves that my mom’s Auntie Tunkel used to make by slow roasting cherries in her old-fashioned oven (a trick she learned from her mother during her childhood in Ukraine). It feels connected to the past and is deeply delicious.

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Sweet Cherry Ketchup

Last month, the folks from the Northwest Cherry Growers sent me 18 pounds of sweet cherries (it’s my 8th year participating in their Sweet Preservation Canbassador program). After eating a couple pounds in a single sitting, I got down to the work of preserving. I made some whole fruit preserves, cherry and Meyer lemon marmalade, a batch of cherry and black raspberry jam, some cherry ketchup, and used up the rest in a mixed fruit jam.

I managed to share the recipe for the Spiced Cherry Preserves and then totally lost my blogging mojo. So this week, I’m going to try and make up for lost time while fresh cherries can still be had. I’ll link up this post as I get the recipes published. Here’s the first one.

A few notes. The recipe calls for pitted cherries, but you can also use the technique described here if you want an easier route to getting those pits out. If you’re not sure what you would do with cherry ketchup, know that it’s delicious on burgers and with roasted sweet potatoes. And if you’ve got them, feel free to use fancy sauce bottles, as described in this post.

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Hot Pack Spiced Cherry Preserves

These spiced cherry preserves are a tasty way to put up this most precious of summer fruit. Sweet, spicy, and tender, they’re a good companion for breakfast, cheese plates, and dessert!

Last Thursday, a big box of sweet cherries arrived from the nice folks from the Northwest Cherry Growers. I’ve slowly been working through them (look for black raspberry and cherry jam, cherry and meyer lemon marmalade, and more coming at you soon) and on Monday night, I used three pounds for my Facebook Live demo.

These preserved cherries (pitted but left whole) are simmered in a syrup that’s been spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and black peppercorns. They soften and slump, but retain enough texture that they’re a good companion for cheese plates, yogurt parfaits, and damp slices of buttery poundcake. I think you’ll like them!

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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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