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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you would have made given the same challenge!
- 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.
- Giveaway open to United States residents only.
- 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.
Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary
- 2 1/2 pounds sweet cherries
- 16 ounces raw honey
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary about 6-8 inches lont
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 4 half pints of product.
- Wash cherries. Remove stems and pits, and slice in half.
- Combine the chopped cherries with the honey and rosemary in a low, wide pan.
- Put the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook at a moderate boil, stirring regularly, for 15-20 minutes. The preserve is done when the liquid has thickened into a slow running syrup and the cherries are soft.
- Towards the end of cooking, add the lemon juice and salt.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Funnel preserves into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- When time is up, remove canner from heat and set the lid aside. Let the jars cool gradually in the pot for an additional 10 minutes (this is to prevent any liquid loss).
- Remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to continue to cool.
- When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Rinse the jars to remove any sticky residue.
- Sealed jars will keep on the shelf for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
I like pairing herbs with fruit, so rosemary with anything sounds lovely. I haven’t tried substituting honey for sugar though, that will be something new to try.
That looks so good! I think I would try something with olives in a honey/rosemary brine. Yum.
I would make a cherry-blueberry- honey jam
Stewed Italian Plums!
Love all the great ideas….so inspiring to me.
I am obsessed with apricots at the present time
apricot honey jam on my mind with some fresh herbs
Your method is very similar to making Mostarda, the Italian condiment used for Bollito Misto (boiled meats) – I would have added 40g. mustard seeds (yellow & brown in equal proportions) plus 40g. ground mustard seeds to the mix. If you’re lucky enough to be able to find Italian Mustard Oil, a few drops of that at the end would make a sublime condiment for all things boiled and meaty 🙂
I would have made some tomato jam. A little sweet with the honey, and a little spicy with some red pepper flakes!
Thanks for the opportunity! (hit send accidentally) – I think you hit the mark pretty square on the head. Another idea would have been a similar pear chutney with apples to add some crispness.
Yum! I’d make a preserve with the cherries, port, sage and the honey. To be used either with the Dolomite cheeses or as a glaze for some wild game or roast chicken.
I would make raspberry, rosemary, balsamic vinegar spread if I had to do something different from yours–it sounds great!
I’d make the Muscadine Plum chutney with pecans that my two aunts made when I was growing up. The fruit and nuts came from their own garden. It was wonderful with pork or ham. Now that I’ve remembered it, I’m going to have to try and find a recipe.
Not sure I could improve on your use of cherries, but with tomatoes coming on strong, and given how much we do love everything tomato, a compote, jammy, chutney sort of thing sounds quite good.
I might have attempted a grape/wine jelly…but I love cherry preserves! I think that this would be lovely with some cheese and ham!!
I might have chopped the cherries and drizzled with the honey and a few thyme blossoms and slow roasted them until the fruit softened. Then I might have slathered it on a wheel of brie and then wrapped it in puff pastry and baked it until the scent drew my neighbors into the street with longing and then they might dance and wave baguettes until I served them some…
Mmmm. I love the idea you came up with. Another thought might be pickling something (shallots?) in balsamic vinegar to go along with an Italian version of a pub lunch.
While reading your recipe the thought of apricots, thyme and honey came to mind. Our apricots are finished for the year, but I will keep it in mind for next season. It reminds me of stilton cheese.
My daughter encourages me at least once a year to make cranberry mustard (she loves it on ham). I think I could convince her that cherries would be a lovely substitution in a cherry honey mustard.
mm… Thinking something like a honey-mustard-glaze type situation. But I love your solution!
Italian plum preserves with basil and balsamic vinegar
Maybe something similar with apricots? I’ve always loved apricots with ham.
I’ve been thinking of canning cherries – this post is perfect! Can’t wait to try it! I’ve recently discovered your blog and made your raspberry jam today, although I used 2.5c pear with 5.5c raspberries – still turned out divine!) Sadly, I don’t have your creative talent – your choice sounds perfect to me!
Apples are one of the regions local specialties. I’d like to try mixing the honey with apples to create a preserve/chutney which is infused with juniper berries. Uses regional produce and plays on the Germanic heritage of the region
I’m into savory – caramelized onion and hot pepper sounds interesting
I live in Northern Michigan and the timing of your recipe was perfect. I bought cherries at the local stand, cut a sprig of rosemary from the pot, and it was game on. The result is delicious. I removed the rosemary before ladling into jars- the flavor was definitely there, and the sprig had gone limp. The preserve is definitely savory, and I can’t wait to break it out with some goat cheese…Thank you for a terrific recipe.
I would have tried making a dessert with the cherries. Maybe a clafouti?
I would do a blueberry honey jam.
Since I have a lot of tomatoes in my garden, I’d make an heirloom tomato jam/chutney.
I love the combination of ingredients because they do pair well with the ingredients of the region. I have a very old fashioned way of pitting the cherries that saves lots of time. Splitting with a knife takes forever! Get a hairpin (yes, they still sell them) and insert into the stem end and pull. The pit comes right out.
I just picked cup my CSA shares of dark cherries at our local farmers market. Originally I was going to make a dark rum cherry bounce…….but now………this sounds great too! thanks for all the recipes and ideas…Love this site!!
Rosemary lemon jam.
Balsamic Fig with rosemary!
Thanks for looking in my refrigerator and posting accordingly 🙂 I have the cherries, honey and rosemary hanging out in a container in the frig right now waiting to be cooked tomorrow.
I doubt I could improve on your idea, but I like the idea of doing some plums and honey in a chunky jam.
Oh yum! What a fabulous combo! I’d love a smear on my toast this am!
I know I’m late – what can I say – I tried this but used a whole lime (as I like the tartness) I bundled rosemary, thyme and basil & 10 cardamom seeds (what’s in my planters) and 1/4 cup of vanilla infused balsamic vinegar……..I spooned some on ice cream before canning………OMGoodness.