Tag Archives | sour cherries

Sour Cherry Preserves with Bourbon

It’s day two of cherry week and today, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from my second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint. For this one, you simmer sour cherries together with sugar, lemon juice, and bourbon together for five or six minutes, until the liquid thickens a little and the cherries are just soft. The alcohol cooks off as the syrup boils, so there’s no lingering booziness, just a little extra richness that helps balance the flavor of the tart cherries.

This exact recipe doesn’t work well with sweet cherries, but one could add a splash of bourbon to this approach, to approximate the flavor.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for another recipe featuring cherries!

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Sweet and Sour Cherry Jam

sweet and sour cherry jam

Sour cherries have long been one of my favorite fruits for preserving. I mostly missed the season last year and so spent much of late June and early July this year trying to make up for my lackluster show in 2012. I picked at least 15 pounds on my own and when that didn’t prove to be quite enough, I bought a flat from Three Springs Fruit Farms.

Towards the end of my sour cherry extravaganza, I found myself with both sweet and sour cherries. I could have made a duo of small batches of jam, but instead decided to combine them for a sweet and tart preserve. I used a lower than usual (for me) amount of sugar and turned to Pomona’s Pectin to help me out in the set department. The finished jam has much of the sour cherries tangy bite, but with the deep richness of the sweets. I am very happy with the result.

jar cherry pitter

I realize that cherry season is rapidly drawing to a close throughout the country, but I wanted to get this one published to the blog in the hopes that maybe it will still be of use to some of you. Plus, I want to remember it for next year, as it’s a recipe truly worth repeating.

Speaking of cherries, the folks at Fillmore Container are hosting a giveaway this week, featuring this fun cherry pitter and one of the new blue heritage Ball jars. It screws on to a regular mouth mason jar and catches the cherry pits there (perfect if you want to use them for an infusion project). To throw your hat in the ring for a chance at it, head over to their blog.

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Notes on a Batch of Sour Cherry Pie Filling

cherry pie filling

When I made the cherry pie for Sarah and Dave last week, I used the very last of my fresh cherries (it was the very end of the season, after all). Happily, I managed to snag enough sour cherries this year that in addition to making a bunch of jam and preserved cherries in a bourbon-spiked syrup, I also made a two quarts of sour cherry pie filling (plus one half pint jar of overflow).

One is promised to the winner of the Pie Box giveaway (have you entered yet?), but I have grand plans for the other one. Sometime next winter, when the days are painfully short and sour cherries are just a flickering memory, I will open that last jar and brighten my day with pie.

cherry pie filling top

It had been at least two years since I worked with ClearJel and I remembered a couple things about it in this go-round (though a little too late to be truly helpful). The first is that I like a thinner pie filling than the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s recipe makes. This time, I’ve made a note in my cookbook to remind myself to go a little lighter on the thickener. Second, headspace is really important when canning pie filling.

You see, I didn’t quite tell the entire truth up above. When I made this batch of pie filling, my initial yield was three quarts. However, I was so focused on squeezing every last drop of pie filling into the jars that I overfilled that final jar. During processing, ClearJel expands a little and in the case of that jar, it expanded so much that it popped the lid right off. It was a frustrating reminder about the importance of following headspace instruction. Live and learn.

The recipe I followed can be found here. I made enough to fill three quarts and next time I make it, I will use a scant 1/4 cup ClearJel per quart (the recipe calls for 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon). I skipped the food coloring and cinnamon, but did add the almond extra.

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Sour Cherry Jam Recipe

cherries in the sink

I had grand plans for sour cherries this year. I knew that the sweet cherry crop had been bad, so when Mood’s Farm Market opened their u-pick sour cherry picking, I went the second day of the season. My thinking was that if I got there early, I’d get enough cherries to keep my in jam and pie-filling for the year. However, when I walked into the farmstand and asked to pick sour cherries, the 15 year old behind the counter just shook her and said, “you’re not going to find much.”

I told her I’d just do my best, and she shrugged her shoulders at me and wrote out the picking permit. As soon as I pulled up to the orchard, I could see she hadn’t been joking. In just over 24 hours, the sour cherry orchard had been picked nearly clean. Grabbing my bucket and step ladder, I began to wander, hoping I’d find a few pockets of cherries left.

10 cups pitted cherries

I spent a bit over an hour out in the orchard, gazing at trees with an upturned head. I went up and down that step ladder at least 100 times, each time repositioning it to grab a bit more fruit. It was hard work, and yet it was also wonderful. All the stretching and bending, it felt like the most productive and delicious yoga I’d ever done.

I went home that night with scant four pounds of cherries, which rapidly became three pints of jam. However a lucky thing happened as I was making the jam. I happened to broadcast my disappointment with the slim haul on Twitter. Some friends saw it and invited me to pick some cherries from the trees in their community garden, which happened to be dripping with fruit. With Angie’s help, I found myself with ten more pounds. Jams and pie filling galore!

pits

It might sound like I went to an awful lot of trouble for some sour cherries, but if you’ve tasted jams or baked goods made with little gems, you’ll know that the effort was well worth it. The flavor is bright, tangy (not sour exactly, just perfectly piquant) and, when combined with a bit of sugar, quite heavenly. I’ve been eating the jam stirred into plan yogurt (you might have picked up on the fact that yogurt is one of my favorite vehicles for jam) and I have six pitted pounds in the freezer, waiting to become pie filling at some later date – I plan on using this recipe as my starting place.

sour cherry jam bubbling away

Now, time is beginning to run out on sour cherries, but you can still get them if you look carefully. Here in Philly, Beechwood Orchards still has them (at least they did today at the Rittenhouse Market) and from what I hear, more northernly climates are just getting them in. Sometimes you can even get them frozen, which, if you’ve got a sour cherry tooth like I do, isn’t such a bad way to go.

I do believe that it’s time to offer up another giveaway. This time, I only have a four ounce jar on offer (I’m telling you, this stuff is precious to me), but it should be enough to firmly plant the flavor in your taste brain and make you jones for more. Leave a comment by Friday, July 10 at 5 p.m. if you want a chance to win. One entry per person, winner will be selected via the random number generator.

And on to the recipe…

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