Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sweet Cherries

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Yakima Bing cherries
Yakima Bing cherries

My sister Judy came out to our place with her two kids.  We all spent a slow afternoon together that was relaxed, easy, and unhurried.  She and I went down to the farmer's market and came home with a case of cherries and a case of apricots.  Don't worry, this is not about apricots today, but about the sweet cherries we found.

Boys pitting cherries
Boys pitting cherries

Both Judy's and my youngest were born on the same day and have quite similar interests.  The boys find anything mechanical and hands-on the perfect way to entertain themselves.  The 2 of them working together were the best cherry pitters of the group.  I have this Norpro gadget and it easily attached to the edge of the picnic table outside, allowing them to take turns pitting and stemming and making piles of cherries for Judy and I to can.  

We did two kinds of canning, jars with just hot water over the fruit and jars with the very lightest of simple syrup (10% solution).  Using the tables from the University of Missouri Extension site, it was easy to figure out the correct sugar to water ratio, along with the proper canning times.  Our cherries were whole, raw, and in a mixture of pint and quart jars.  From their information it was straight forward to determine that no matter which sized jar, the processing time is 25 minutes for my elevation.  I mention this site as a resource in all of my canning posts and really do use it myself. 

Cherry and apricot tart
Cherry and apricot tart

Judy whipped up some fresh fruit galette for all of us while the canning prep work was going on.  See what I mean about what a great cook she is?!  I had to get a photo fast because the tart was gone soon after.  We were able to put up 8 quarts of sweet cherries, with 12 cups reserved for the Cherry Chai Butter that I made.  I will post about that later this week.  Whether you are working alone, with the help of good friends, or alongside your sister, I hope you try canning your own fruit.  You can do it!




Sweet Cherries
Can your own sweet cherries for those holiday pies and treats. This recipe will show you how easy it is.
Ingredients
  • 8 quarts whole fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and washed
  • 10 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
Instructions

  1. Prepare your jars, lids, rings and canner. If you are new to water bath canning, or it has been a while, be sure to refresh your skills from a reliable and official source to guide you through this process.
  2. In a large pot combine the water and sugar over a medium flame. Bring up to a boil then turn the flame down to simmer to keep your syrup hot throughout the canning process.
  3. Pack your hot jars with the cherries. Do not be shy about pushing down a bit to get plenty of them in without actually smashing them. Pour the hot syrup over the cherries leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Take a lot of time removing any bubbles -- remember the cherries are hollow so they need to be jostled a little bit to get all the air out. I found that a chop stick worked best for this and you need to work through the jar twice. Adjust the final headspace back to 1/2 inch one last time.
  4. Clean the rim of the jar thoroughly, apply your hot lid, and then the ring. Tighten the ring just until "finger tip tight", not too tight, but not loose either.
  5. Process you jars in a hot water bath for 25 minutes for both quart or pint size, measuring the time after the water returns to a full boil. Adjust your processing time as necessary depending on your elevation.
  6. Remove your jars from the water bath to a cloth covered counter. Let them cool completely for 12-24 hours before testing the seals. Any jars that do not seal properly are still perfectly good to eat, just keep them in the refrigerator.
  7. Store your cherries in a cool dark place. These cherries are ready to eat immediately, no wait time necessary.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 quarts, 16 pints

Last, but not least, if you are brand new to water bath canning be sure to follow best practices outlined by reliable sites such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation or the University of Missouri Extension. Home canning is something anyone can do!