A Very Cherry Couple of Days

If I never see another cherry…

Not really. Actually it is sad to see the end of cherry canning come so soon. The past two days have been spent finishing up the sweet cherries, using up the last of the rhubarb, and canning all but about 8 pounds of the tart cherries. The tart cherries will be finished on Friday by making Grace’s all-time favorite Tart Cherry Jelly and with the pulp Tart Cherry Preserves for cream cheese pastries and turnovers.

Most everything I made these couple of days are new recipes. My goal was to try as many new recipes as I could so that next year I can concentrate on just those that turn out to be family favorites. So far I think at least three of the recipes are definitely going on next years Canning To-Do List.

The first recipe I did yesterday was based on one I found online for a 50/50 Cherry Jam. I am not really sure why this had to sit overnight before finishing, but it was definitely worth the wait. I changed the proportions of cherries (it originally had 2.5:1 ratio, not even close to 50/50), the amount of sugar, and of course used Clear Jel. I call my version Very Cherry Jam and this would be wonderful in crepes, on Belgium waffles, as a filling for pastries, or on ice cream.

Very Cherry Jam

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2.5 Pounds Sweet Cherries, pitted and chopped
2 Pounds Tart Cherries, pitted
2 Cups Sugar
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
5 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed with 1/3 Cup Water

Day 1: Pit and chop sweet cherries. Pit tart cherries. Combine cherries in ceramic bowl with 2 cups of sugar and lemon juice and let sit overnight in refrigerator.

Day 2: Combine cherry mixture with Clear Jel slurry in large stock pot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Let boil hard for 1 minutes. Remove from heat, ladle into jars, and process in water bath canner for 15 minutes.

This is spreadable, but if I were to make this a true jam I think I would decrease the Clear Jel to 4 Tbsp. in the future. I like it thicker. It works well for using as a filling this way and as long as it spreads, I’ll eat it on toast too.

Besides jams and preserves, I wanted to experiment a little using cherries in concentrates. Being that tart cherries were so scarce, I didn’t want to use them, but found the sweet cherries worked very well. I made two versions of a Sweet Cherry Lemonade. The first was a 50/50 Lemon-Limeade which was very mild, almost like a juice moreso than a lemonade. The second was a true Lemonade, tart and sweet.

Sweet Cherry Lemon-Lime Concentrate

6 Cups Sweet Cherries, pitted and chopped in food processor
2 Cups Freshly Squeeze Lime Juice
2 Cups Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
6 Cups Sugar

Combine cherry puree, juices, and sugar in large stock pot. Bring mixture to about 170° so as to release the juice from the cherry pulp.

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Run mixture through food mill, extracting all the juice, leaving the pulp.

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If any pulp remains, strain again through a fine-mesh strainer. Return liquid to stock pot and bring to 190°. Ladle into hot jars, cap, and process in water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Sweet Cherry Lemonade Concentrate

6 Cups Sweet Cherries, pitted and chopped in food processor
4 Cups Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
6 Cups Sugar

Combine cherry puree, lemon juice, and sugar in large stock pot. Bring mixture to about 170° so as to release the juice from the cherry pulp. Run mixture through food mill, extracting all the juice, leaving the pulp. If any pulp remains, strain again through a fine-mesh strainer. Return liquid to stock pot and bring to 190°. Ladle into hot jars, cap, and process in water bath canner for 15 minutes.

This was a good way to use up some of the cherries I bought last week that were getting a little on the ripe side. Although eating an over-ripe cherry isn’t all that appealing, it is perfect for juicing.

Another recipe that I made this year that took more than a day to complete was Maraschino Cherries. Although I am not a big fan of these very sweet, candy-like cherries, Grace enjoys them and I do enjoy the juice in Coca-Cola on occasion. This recipe took 4 days to complete but each day there wasn’t all that much work to do.

Maraschino Cherries

4.5 lbs. Sweet Cherries, pitted
8 Cups Sugar
3 Cups Water
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp. Almon Extract

Brine: 8 Cups Water
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt

Day 1: Pit cherries. Place cherries in covered pan. Heat brine on stove to dissolve salt. Pour over cherries and let soak overnight.
Day 2: Drain cherries. Rinse in cold water. Combine cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in pan. Bring to boil. Cover and let sit 24 hours.
Day 3: Remove cherries from juice. Bring liquid to boil. Remove from heat. Spoon cherries back into heated liquid, cover, and let sit 24 hours.
Day 4: Bring cherries and liquid to boil over medium heat. Add almond extract. Using a slotted spoon pack cherries into hot jars leaving 1“ headspace. Add liquid to 1/2“ headspace, remove air bubbles, and cap. Process in water bath for 20 minutes.

There was a lot of juice leftover after canning these cherries. Although I could have just canned it as it was and used it for Cherry-Cokes, I decided to thicken it slightly and make a syrup out of it.

Maraschino Cherry Syrup

Leftover Juice from above recipe
7 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 1/2 Cup Water

Combine juice and Clear Jel slurry in stock pot. Bring to boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Ladle into hot jars, cap, and process in water bath for 10 minutes.

This syrup is definitely an acquired taste. I’m not sure I would make it again, as Zeb will probably be the only one willing to eat such a sweet syrup on his pancakes. I think I can still use the syrup to make Cherry-Cokes, I’ll just have to be sure to mix it very well in order to dissolve some of the jelling.

The one aspect of canning that I find challenging as well as satisfying is finding ways to make sure none of the fruit or vegetables I am canning go to waste. Be it in another recipe or tossing scraps in the compost heap, I want to be sure that no scraps get left behind. So, when I decided to make a Rhubarb Jelly this afternoon, I had to be sure that all the pulp from the rhubarb was not wasted, especially as it took a ton of rhubarb to get just 3 cups of strained juice.

Rhubarb Jelly

3 Cups Rhubarb Juice
2 Cups Sugar
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4 Cup Water

For Rhubarb Juice: Place 12 cups of finely chopped rhubarb in large stock pot with one cup water. Slowly bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and let simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using stick blender puree rhubarb. Transfer puree to strainer or jelly bag and let drain for 1 hour.

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Combine rhubarb juice, sugar, lemon juice, and Clear Jel slurry in large stock pot. Bring to boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Ladle into hot jars, cover, and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

This jelly is probably my favorite recipe I made. It is tart and the perfect consistency. Next year I am going to be sure to pick even more rhubarb and use this recipe to make a rhubarb syrup by decreasing the Clear Jel by half. It’s a shame it takes so much rhubarb to get so little a yield. That’s okay though, because I used all the pulp to make Rhubarb Sauce.

Rhubarb Sauce

Pulp from 12 Cups cooked, pureed, and strained Rhubarb
2 Cups Sugar

Combine pulp and sugar in large stock pot.

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Heat mixture over medium heat to near boil. Remove from heat, ladle into hot jars, cover, and process in water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Rhubarb sauce is just like applesauce, just less sweet and on the tart side. This will be a great side for pork or chicken dishes or even as an ice cream topper.

So many recipes, so many canning jars, so much more to do. Of the list of recipes I wanted to try this year, I didn’t get to four. That gives me something to look forward to for next year, along with any other new ones I come up with in the meantime, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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4 responses

  1. Pingback: Mini Desserts #5 – Creamy Frozen Mini Fruit Cups | Simply Grateful Housewife

  2. As soon as I get my kitchen back to normal I will be giving some of these marvelous recipes a try! I want to do more canning this year, be successful in getting a vegetable garden going, and grow some house plants!

    • Last year was the first real successful year I had with gardening, but with bumps along the way. House plants are still better off not coming into my home. Hubby says I can kill silk ones!

  3. Pingback: 2015 Michigan Cherry Recipes #1 – Very Cherry Pie Filling | Simply Grateful Housewife

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