It’s been some time since I’ve baked. Mostly because I haven’t had a proper occasion. My family trips to NJ over the past few month have meant borrowing my mom’s kitchen to whip up some treats or simply providing the libations. Have you ever tried to carry a cake or pie on the subway, a short walk and two trains? Trust me, it’s not a fun experience. The responsibility of making sure the dessert stays perfectly straight with little bumps or bruises is stressful enough, but add a hot humid day and some whipped topping and it’s a recipe for disaster. Nobody wants to eat a puddled dessert soup. Unless of course it was originally planned that way.
A few weeks back when I made mini tiramisu cups, I bought mascarpone with intentions of bringing the supplies to my mother’s to cook. I can’t remember the exact circumstances but I ended up leaving my ingredients in Brooklyn and buying new ingredients in Jersey, leaving me with two tubs of mascarpone, an ingredient that I’ve purchased very sparingly in my life. Luckily the cream has a long refrigerator life if unopened. As the expiration date pushed closer I knew I had to make something. I canned some bourbon cherries the other week, realizing I still had half a pint left over from last season that we needed to consume. …how those cherries lasted a few year is still a mystery.
Bourbon Sour Cherries – Perfect for ice cream or by the spoonful
Almost all fruits can be put up in simple syrup. No need to search for fancy canning recipes, just can as is with anything from a super light syrup (10%) to heavy syrup (50%) and save them for a winter cobbler or pie. I put up peaches three years ago when I started canning and honestly it was pretty awful. I hadn’t yet mastered the skill of blanching, essential for easy peel peaches. They still tasted like peaches but were soft and squishy when I opened them a few months later. I had to drain the syrup and peaches for a good hour just to remove enough moisture so they wouldn’t soak through my pie crust. It was still a summer pie in the middle of February, but I was not impressed. It was then that I swore off whole fruit canning. I’m a perfectionist, and if I couldn’t do it perfectly (the first time…) I figured jars of jam and a freezer full of berries was plenty good.
I was perfectly content with my decision until my friend and I opened up a jar of her sour cherries from last harvest. There was no need for cobbler. We put together an elaborate cheese plate to serve them with but found eating them by the spoonful out of the jar was most effective. I pleaded to take home one of her last jars and poured its fruit and syrup contents over generous bowls of vanilla ice cream. Pure magic. I knew I wouldn’t be lucky enough to keep stealing her canned cherries (did I mention she’s 4 states away?) so I’d have to suck it up and go back on my “no whole fruit” canning rule. Of course, being me, I couldn’t just use simple syrup. There had to be a twist.