Tag Archives | sweet cherries

Sweet Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Sweet cherry barbecue sauce. It’s bright, tangy, and perfect for the summer cookout season.

A four ounce jar of sweet cherry barbecue sauce

A couple weeks ago, just before I headed out of town to teach my Omega workshop and then go to my cousin’s wedding, I did a bunch of canning. I made roasted peach jam. I made a tiny batch of gooseberry jam. And I made a batch of sweet cherry barbecue sauce, using three pounds of cherries from my Canbassador booty.

Three pounds of sweet cherries in an All-Clad stock pot.

I have mixed feelings about barbecue sauce. I think this is, in part, because of my parents’ position on the stuff. My dad loves it (and once invested in a friend’s sauce making venture) and my mom can’t stand it. What’s more, I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life without any grilling space. So my ability to make things appropriate for barbecue is limited at best.

Three pounds of simmered sweet cherries for barbecue sauce.

However, in recent years, I’ve discovered just how good these homemade sauces are when poured into slow cookers and used as a tasty braising medium for things like pork shoulders and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. And so, I’ve gradually expanding the number I make each year.

The finished yield of sweet cherry barbecue sauce.

Whether you’re a huge fan of barbecue sauce or you’re lukewarm on the topic, I highly encourage you to explore this one!

Oh, and a quick tip about pitting cherries for things you’re going to cook down. Instead of working each one through the cherry pitter, remove the stems and heap them into the pan you’re going to use to cook the sauce. Add half a cup of water, cover the pot, and simmer the cherries for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool. Then, reach in and use your fingers to pop the pits out of the cherries. Wear gloves if you’re concerned about staining your fingers. It takes no more than 10 minutes to pop the pits out of the cherries when prepped this way. Easy.

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Apricot and Sweet Cherry Compote

finished cherry apricot compote

This is a blog post about preserving fruit, but on second read, I realize that it’s also about going with the flow of life. 

I didn’t get as many apricots into jars this year as I like. I ordered my annual half-bushel from Beechwood Orchards like I always do, but it arrived at the start of that week when my mother-in-law went into the hospital, which was also the same week as the photo shoot for my next book.

While I did do my best to prevent the apricots from going bad, at least a quarter of them ended up succumbing to mold before I could cook them down.

prepped cherries and apricots

Instead of feeling bad about the waste (I’m trying to spend less time beating myself up about my inevitable shortcomings), I’m focusing my efforts on celebrating the apricot preserves I was able to make. This apricot and cherry compote is one such victory.

cooking cherry apricot compote

Much like the peach and cherry preserve I wrote about on Wednesday, this simple preserve employs just three ingredients. Because it contains a relatively low amount of sugar, it ended up with a fairly sloshy consistency. Thankfully, I’m okay with that.

finished cherry apricot compote close

You see, one of the privileges of being the preserver is that you get to set the expectations for each finished batch. I will often go into a preserving project thinking I’m making jam, only to realize that I’ve ended up with a preserve, compote, or sauce. Instead of struggling with the outcome, I embrace what is. Being flexible saves a great deal of heartache in the end.

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Sweet Cherry and Yellow Peach Preserves

finished cherry peach preserves

A couple of weeks ago, just before I left on my trip to Portland, I hit a familiar preserving wall (I bash into it at least once a summer. And sometimes more than once). I had a fridge full of fresh produce, stonefruit ripening on the counter, and I had just a day and a half before I was leaving town.

peeling peaches

There was no time for careful preserving, with long maceration times. I needed to prep as quickly as possible and fling everything into the pot. I peeled the three pounds of peaches that my friend Audra had given me from her tree by cutting them into halves and quarters, lining them up in a baking dish and pouring boiling water over them.

cherries in a pot

I pitted the cherries (these were from my July Philly Foodworks share) by heaping them into a pan, adding a tiny bit water, and simmering them for 10 minutes. Once they were cool enough to handle, I plunged my hands into the warm fruit and pinched the pits out. My fingernails were stained for days, but the cherries took less than 8 minutes of active work.

simmered cherries

I combined the peaches, the pitted cherries, and any juice left in the cherry pan in a large measuring cup to see how much I had and found that I had exactly 8 cups of fruit. I poured the fruit in my beloved maslin pan and spent a moment thinking about sugar.

peaches and cherries in measuring cup

As you may have noticed, I’ve been making lower and lower sugar preserves, mostly because I want to be able to eat what I make and I don’t always want to be eating fruit with an equal measure of sugar. I’ll often use Pomona’s Pectin in order to get a good set with minimal sugar, but this time, I just didn’t feel like bothering with pectin at all. Instead, I decided to add 2 1/2 cups of sugar, boil the heck out of it, and be happy with whatever set it ended up with.

prepped cherries and peaches

After about 40 minutes of vigorous cooking, I ended up with 6 half pints of deep red preserves. It has a very soft set, but isn’t so loose that it can’t wear the catch-all preserves handle. It’ll be a good one for eating with yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal come fall and winter, and I wouldn’t be at all ashamed to tuck a jar or two into gift baskets.

cherry peach preserves two jars

Note: Because the peaches I used in this preserve were a tiny bit tangy, I didn’t use any lemon juice in this preserve. However, if your peaches are quite sweet, a drop or two wouldn’t go amiss. Additionally, you could easily spice this one up with a touch of ginger or cinnamon.

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Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary for the Whole Journeys Challenge + Giveaway

Sweet Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary | Food in Jars

While I was out on the west coast a few weeks back, I got an email from a very nice woman from the Whole Foods Market corporate offices. She was writing because they’ve recently launched a travel company called Whole Journeys and were partnering with bloggers as a way of shining some light on some of their featured trips and destinations.

halved cherries | Food in Jars

In this particular round of promotion, they were inviting a few bloggers to create a preserve would combine seasonal produce with an ingredient from one of the regions visited on a Whole Journeys itinerary.

Despite my crazy schedule, I just couldn’t say no to this very interesting recipe development challenge. Plus, they were kicking in a gift card to cover supplies and another one to give away to a FiJ reader (more about that at the end of the post).

mountain forest honey | Food in Jars

When I got back to Philadelphia, there was a package waiting for me that contained a few jelly jars, a little tub of raw mountain honey, and a sheaf of paper telling me all about the Dolomites, which is a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps.

honey cherry rosemary | Food in Jars

I spent a goodly amount of time wondering what I could make that would be both appropriately Italian and evoke a mountainous region. So much time, in fact, that I missed the challenge deadline and still didn’t have a plan. Oops.

cooking cherries | Food in Jars

Last Thursday, I stopped thinking and started canning. One of the details included in the material they sent was the fact that the Dolomites is known for cheeses, speck (it’s a lovely, smokey cured ham), and wines. I decided to make a preserve that would go nicely with all those things.

dirty pot | Food in Jars

I took 2 1/2 pounds of cherries, split them in half, popped out the pits and piled them in a low wide Dutch oven. I added the honey that had come in my box (it was a 16 ounce jar), along with a fragrant stem of rosemary (I brought a gallon size bag of rosemary clipped from a giant shrub in my parents’ front yard back to Philly with me). I let it sit for a bit, until the honey dissolved and the cherries released some juice.

empty jar | Food in Jars

Once it was juicy, I put the pot on the stove and brought it to a boil. I cooked it at a rapid bubble for about 20 minutes, until the cherries softened and the syrup thickened a bit. I didn’t add any pectin because I wasn’t going for a jam, but instead wanted tender cherries in a rosemary and honey flavored syrup. Towards the end of cooking, I added the juice of one lemon and just a pinch of sea salt, to help sharpen the finished flavor.

spoonful of preserved cherries | Food in Jars

The preserve is a perfect accompaniment for cheese and cured meats, so I think I hit my mark. It’s one that I look forward to cracking open later in the fall when the evenings turn crisp and the days shorten.

Now, the giveaway. I have one $50 gift certificate to send out to one of you. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you would have made given the same challenge!
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 27, 2014.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

For more about Whole Journeys, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: Whole Foods Market gave me a gift card to cover the cost of supplies for this challenge (along with a few jars and a little tub of honey) and has also provided the $50 gift card for this giveaway. My thoughts and opinions remain, as always, entirely my own.

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Sweet Cherry Chutney

sweet cherries

I spent last Friday evening at the Whole Foods Market in Devon, PA, teaching a group of lovely ladies how to make and preserve a small batch of sweet cherry chutney.

Because it takes a bit longer than jam to cook down, I don’t often choose chutney for my classes and demos. But it happened to fit nicely for this particular class, and I’m so glad it did because it reminded me of just how good this particular preserve is.

chopped sweet cherries

I went home on Friday night with a stash of cherries from the sale and spent a chunk of time over the weekend pitting the cherries and slicing them into quarters (because I’m insane like that). I ended up making a larger, slightly tweaked version from the one we made in class, but it was no less delicious.

finished chutney

Once you get through the pitting of the cherries, this chutney couldn’t be simpler. It’s really just a matter of getting the ingredients into the pot, bringing them to a boil, and then cooking until the ingredients marry and the liquid evaporates. There’s no need to monitor the temperature or check for set. It’s done when it doesn’t look watery anymore.

Another nice things about making a preserve like this is that you can break up the cooking time. While my batch was simmering, Scott and I decided that we wanted to go for a walk. I just turned off the stove and slid the pot to a cool burner. When we got back, I brought the chutney back to a low bubble and finished it off.

Oh, and one more thing. If you don’t have the mental fortitude to pit and chop 4 pounds of cherries, try making this chutney with plums. It works just as well and isn’t as tedious.

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Deal Alert: Sweet Cherries on Sale Tomorrow at Whole Foods Market

This Friday is the annual cherry sale at Whole Foods Market! Very exciting!

I start paying more attention to the Whole Foods Markets Friday sales starting in mid-June. That’s because every July for the last few years, they have one day when they put all the sweet cherries on sale. They go from being upwards of $4 or $5 a pound to a crazy low $1.99 a pound. As a cherry obsessive and dedicated preserver, you better believe that this is one sale that I do not miss.

Because I’ve been on the road so much this summer, I haven’t been paying as much attention to the sales at my local Whole Foods as I normally do. However, I stopped by earlier today and spotted this sign (and was so excited, I felt moved to take a picture and post it to Instagram). The cherry sale is tomorrow!

After getting a couple of questions about availability on my Instagram post, I did a little digging and found out that the sale price will be in effect at all WFM stores in the US (including Hawaii). There is a chance that they will run out of cherries before the end of the day, so if you want in on the action, make sure to get to your local store on the earlier side of the day.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of discount cherries, but aren’t sure how you’d use up a mess of them, here are some of my favorite cherry recipes from the archives.

pickled cherries

Sweet pickled cherries. Eat them with roasted meat or with some cheese like a deconstructed chutney. Or, if you want something appropriate for a burger, make yourself some cherry ketchup.

booze and cherries

Cherry bounce. It’s just cherries, sugar, and bourbon. What could be bad about that? Or, if bourbon isn’t your thing, what about cherry rum?

sweet and sour cherry jam

Sweet and sour cherry jam. If you can’t find sour cherries, try using apricots or raspberries in their place. It’s lovely, low sugar preserve that is one of my pantry staples these days.

cherry clafoutis

If you don’t feel like hauling out your canning pot, there’s also the cherry clafoutis, which is always nice. You bake cherries into a slightly sweet custard. Pitting is optional.

There are even more cherry recipes in my cookbooks. Sweet cherry butter! Bing cherries in red wine syrup! Sweet cherry compote!

However you do it, make sure you enjoy some some cherries this summer!

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