Normally this time of year, i would be raving about berry season. Don't worry, i will be very soon. Right now though, i'm a bit consumed with cherries. In my last post i mentioned that we picked around 30 lbs of cherries from my neighbor's tree. Well after two days of pitting/freezing/ canning cherries, Kenan went back and picked us another 15lbs!
So yesterday and today, i've been working through the last of the cherries.
So, what does one do with (around) 45 lbs of cherries?
i freeze most of them. i remove the pits and then freeze them individually on cookie sheets or in pans. Once they are frozen i can move them into a freezer storage container. This makes them much easier to measure out for recipes, and the kids snack on them year round. We add them to smoothies, they can be baked into pies, tarts and any other cherry desserts.
We also made cheery sorbet. Our cherries have a pale flesh, so they don't make the beautiful bright red sorbet that some cherries make. My boy said that ours was the color of vomit, but it still tasted great!
Easy cherry sorbet recipe
3 cups frozen pitted tart cherries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup white grape juice or apple juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
Place cherries in a food processor/blender. Add all ingredients, cover and process until smooth. Pour into a freezer container and freeze until firm.
We also made whole fruit pops. i didn't use an exact recipe for these, just took about a cup or so of frozen cherries and blended them with some juice. You can really use any juice to create unique flavors. i used apple juice. Pour them in your popsicle molds and freeze until firm.
i was planning to can pie filling so that i had it already made and could just pop open a can when i wanted to use some. However, all the pie filling recipes i found called for Clearjel, which i don't have. i thought i'd be able to use cornstarch, but i get a bit weirded out with canning and botulism contamination and i read that cornstarch isn't safe to use in canning. So i decided to just can the cherries in a syrup, and when i need them for a pie i'll have to add the cornstarch then to thicken it.
i also made a few quarts of cherry juice concentrate. i used the technique that i'd used to make grape juice last year. The neighbors we got the cherries from made a few batches too. They just toss the cherries right into the jar with the sugar and add water, but i removed all the cherry pits. The whole arsenic in cherry pits makes me a bit a nervous even if it's just a tiny amount. :)
i'm wishing i had a food dehydrator right now, because i would love to dehydrate the remaining cherries. i need to get in and clean out my freezer, i know i still have lots of blackberries from last year, and we will be picking fresh blackberries very soon.
Tart cherries can be enjoyed so many way. They can be dried, frozen and turned into juice. They are said to have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, when compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. Making them a great snack, no matter how you chose to enjoy them!
Happy Cherry Season!!