I’ve spent so much time lately putting up cherries, I haven’t actually been able to enjoy that many right now. Well, of course as I’m pitting bowls of them I need to quality check them. One out of every 10 cherries is pretty fair. Cherry season is a part of the summer I look forward to most but this year it’s been cut short. Extra curricular activities and weekend plans has allowed me to visit my favorite greenmarkets much less frequently than I would like. Here’s hoping there are still some left next weekend.
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.
Considering the recent surge of strawberry recipes you probably assume I’m a strawberry fiend. Not true. Strawberries are a sign of spring, summer and harvest to come. I coo over them not because of love, but because what they represent and what will soon follow. Cherries are my true love. It pains me to see out of season cherries. Occasionally I’ll succumb to the pressure of deep red foreign cherries, toying with my eyes and stomach. My gluttony is rewarded with sourness and lack of flavor. Cherries are only good when ripe. Fresh and ripe. Off the farm ripe, not early picked and intended to ripen over the 3000 mile journey from California ripe.
Ever notice how sweet focused Christmas is? Really all holidays I guess. Christmas cookies and cupcakes and cakes and pies and hot chocolate and eggnog…the list goes on! Sure there’s some savory dishes that become favorites like turkey and ham but for the most part when you go to a party or an event, the dessert is the highlight. Just think how much time and effort (and money) brides put into coming up with the perfect wedding cake. It’s a centerpiece of the whole day. For Christmas desserts, I think of cookies first, but pies…mmmm, pies are a very close second.
After making Pumpkin Granola the last month. I think I’ve stumbled on a new addiction. I love, love, LOVE granola but the stuff is so pricy. On the flip side, it’s so cheap and easy to make. Well, I’m not 100% sure about the cheap side. My kitchen is filled with mason jars of dried fruits, nuts, beans and grains, so I generally have a cup or two on hand of any necessary ingredient. The only things I had to go out and buy was some extra oats (which by the way are REALLY cheap right now–Christmas baking anyone?) and coconut.