Saturday, July 10, 2010

Preserving cherries

It is hard to face another canning project so soon after the flush of June strawberries. Early July offers a little bit of breathing space in my own edible garden. There is little to eat aside from young squash and the earliest of the cherry tomatoes, which are eaten immediately upon discovery. My blueberry bushes -- more likely candidates for preservation -- are young and only have a few berries on each one. There aren't enough to fill a hand let alone a pint jar! One would think I would take this time to relax and store up canning energy for the August pickles and tomato sauce. But no, the cherries caught my eye at the farmers market today. I couldn't resist.

A recipe from Eugenia Bone's canning book Well Preserved has been burning a hole in my recipe file for a while: Cherries in Red Wine. We are not heavy users of jam and jelly around here, so I clipped this more versatile recipe when I came across it last year. These cherries can be a dessert with, say, vanilla ice cream, or made into a savory dish with some shallots and a sprig of thyme. My husband had a duck breast dish in Paris that featured a cherry and wine sauce, quite similar to what I jarred up today. Please note that Ms. Bone has also corrected the original recipe to 6 cups of wine (rather than 2 quarts). Even with the correction, you will end up with excess wine syrup. It is tasty, but the citrus-clove flavor profile is more winter than summer time. I decided to toss it, but a truly thrifty person with more freezer space could probably save it and find a use for it as a sauce or drink base come fall.

Of course, the pain in the rear with cherries is the pitting, and my hands and nails are now stained dark. I now have five pints of cherries in wine, and they will be a welcome treat when the menu turns to cloves and rich wine sauces in late autumn. We had the first of the local corn for dinner instead. I had planned on leftover cherries for dessert, but after pitting four pounds this afternoon, I needed a break!

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