Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Making Cherry Preserves

Good Morning! I made Cherry Preserves yesterday and took pictures with you in mind. I thought some of you may enjoy and try for yourself this recipe and procedure for making yumminess out of sour cherries.

First, you get the cherries. :)  I grow Bing Cherry trees, so it is relatively easy for me. You may consider Orchards where you know the grower.  Or, just pick some up at your local produce stand. Make sure you get the sour or pie cherries. Sweet cherries will not work.

Once picked or bought, cherries need to be pitted. I squeeze the seeds out one at a time. Some own tools that pit the cherries for you. After I hand pit my cherries, I feed the pits and bad cherries to my chickens - it is a treat for them.

Once pitted and culled, measure out 4 1/2 - 5 cups cherries. Put this in your 4 quart saucepan.  I am making preserves using whole fruit.  If you want to make jam, cut up the fruit into very small pieces.  If you want to make jelly, cook the fruit a few minutes and then strain for several hours until you have all the juice you can get out of the fruit. General rule of thumb is to add as much sugar as you have fruit and/or juice. I usually drop it a bit as that is a bit too sweet for me.

Before doing anything else, select your jelly jars and get them in water to gently boil and sterilize. I use 1/2 pint mason jars, but I think those wide mouth round 8 oz. jelly jars are so cute (but expensive at $1 each). I boil the jars and the sealing lids, but not the twist lids in a blue enamel canner pot. I also sterilize a ladle.  I set a clean towel out on my counter to keep my counter "sterilized" and the tools needed to work the jars (jar grabber, paper towel to wipe off the jars, canning funnel, etc.).

I then measure out 4 cups sugar into a bowl and get my 1 package of pectin out.  I am now ready to make some preserves.  I follow the directions on the pectin package - adding my package of pectin to my fruit and bringing it to a rolling boil on medium high heat.  The package described "rolling boil" as a boil that does not stop when you stir it.  That helps to know that!

Once the fruit is at this rolling boil, the package tells us to quickly add the sugar, stirring it in and allowing it to come to a rolling boil again never changing the heat.  Then, boil for one full minute. I set the timer. And, I stir it  a couple of times in the interim while I'm pulling out my sterilized jars, lids, & ladle from the canner pot.  When the timer goes off, I put the cherries on a cool burner and begin to ladle the mixture into the jars.  As careful as I am, I always need to wipe of the jar rims and then place the seals on the jars and twist the lids on pretty snug.

When this is done, I gently ease the jars back into the canning pot and gently boil for 10 minutes.  Pulling them back out, I invert them on that towel for 5 minutes (wearing a mitt when handling these hot babies).  I set the timer because I do get distracted quite easily.  When the timer goes off, I set them back right side up and they almost always within seconds to minutes.  When they have cooled and using a permanent marker, I write the item and date on the lid.

And, this recipe made 7 1/4 jars for me. Enough to share a couple and eat through the winter. Yum.