Canned Cherries

Two things you need to know before reading this post.

  1. I have a small obsession with plastic straws.  I really love them, and I may or may not take one or five more than I need every time I’m out at an establishment that offers grab-your-own-straws so that we can have a stash at the house.
  2. Several years ago a very sweet woman at the strawberry farm showed us how to hull strawberries with a straw (You just simply stick the straw up the bottom of the strawberry so that the strawberry cap just pops off).  While it’s still not my favorite way to hull berries, it’s wonderful for kids or folks who aren’t super comfortable hulling strawberries.
I found cherries for $1.99 a pound this weekend.  Yup, you got it–a ridiculously cheap price for sweet, delicious cherries.  So I may or may not have bought five 4 pound bags of cherries.  It’s going to take me a while to figure out exactly how to preserve all of them, but I dove in tonight by just canning the fruit with a simple syrup.

I do not, however, have a cherry pitter.  And I was stressing out that I did not have said cherry pitter.  But then my dear, sweet JGL reminded me of that woman in the strawberry patch and how she used the straw to hull the strawberries.  After a few tries and a few snips, I was able to easily pit the cherries.  Simple, easy, and something we certainly have on hand in our house, and something that is a multi-tasker.

I’m thinking some cherry jam and cherry pie filling might be good solutions to our abundance of cherries, but any brilliant suggestions are more than welcomed!

Simple Canned Cherries
Taken from the Ball Book of Preserving
 
Combine 1 1/4 cup sugar and 5 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan.  Heat till boiling.
 
Pit cherries and fill hot jars until full.  Pour hot syrup over cherries, and jiggle to make sure the air pockets are out of the jars.  Place lids and rims on cans, and process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes.  
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Peach Chutney

I know I talked about the impromptu cooking lesson from this past Saturday, but I failed to elaborate on the peach chutney that we put on top of the pork.  I had peaches left over from our adventures in canning a few weeks back, and they a) needed to be used up and b) when we were in Lexington for JGL’s golf tournament I had seen a pork and peach salad and wanted to try to replicate those flavors.

It was freakin’ fantastic.

I should have taken some pictures of it, but I didn’t want to freak out our guests by photographing their food.  But let me tell you folks, it was beautiful!  We placed the grilled pork on the plate and spooned heaps of golden peach goodness on top of each slice.  The recipe that I worked up was enough for four people, and would be an incredible treat canned (hmmm, there’s a thought!).  It was sweet and tart and spicy and just plain delicious.

Peach Chutney  (adapted from an Oprah.com recipe)

  • 1 large shallot, cut in half
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • lemon zest from one lemon
  • lemon juice from said zested lemon
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 large peaches , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Chop shallot and garlic finely, place in bowl.  Add olive oil, grated ginger, lemon zest, and the juice of that lemon.  Season with red pepper flakes, vinegar, brown sugar and salt.  Add the peach chunks and mix well.  Let sit on counter for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors come together, then serve!

You can’t have blueberries without muffins

It was always (and still is!) such a treat to walk into Gram’s and have fresh blueberry muffins waiting for us in the oven.  And thanks to the power of freezing, it was always possible to have fresh berries year round in their house. It took me years to acquire a taste for  the lemon zest topping she put on top, but even today she’ll make a separate batch without it so I don’t have to pick it off.

That’s love!

So with the abundance of blueberries we have from yesterday’s canning, I made muffins and have plans on freezing the rest of the berries.  I ran out of muffin cups so we cut out some parchment paper squares instead, and that seemed to work even better than the cups or just greasing the pans.   The end result?  If I close my eyes and pretend it’s not so humid, I can almost smell that good old New Hampshire air. 

Gram Farnsworth’s Blueberry Muffins (makes 12 muffins) 

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted shortening
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup blueberries
1 tsp lemon zest (about one medium-sized lemon)
  1. Preheat oven to 425, line muffin tins
  2. Mix flour baking powder and salt and sift
  3. Warm milk so that the melted shortening won’t seize up in the mixture (30 seconds in the microwave should do); combine milk, shortening, egg sugar and mix well.
  4. Add blueberries to flour mixture and shimmy the bowl to coat the berries.  Add the milk mixture and stir until the flour mixture has just absorbed the liquid (about ten full stirs around the bowl).  Do not over mix.
  5. Meanwhile take the zest of one lemon and combine in small bowl with sugar.
  6. Spoon batter into the muffin tins; top with lemon-sugar mixture.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool and serve with butter