Monday, July 1, 2013

The Bi(n)g Cherry Day

It's cherry season! We visited a local PYO farm, met up with friends, and spend a wonderful time picking hands full of beautiful cherries, followed by a farmstand picnic. When we arrived at home, I was looking at 17lbs of cherries to process!

Luckily I had equipped myself with this beautiful gadget recently and I cannot say enough good things about it:

It made pitting cherries look so fun that it quickly recruited help, without me having to do anything other than enjoying the satisfying click-dump-clack of the plunger pushing the cherry pit into the bin, and then releasing the cherry into my catch plate. Very cathartic!


With one girl filling the hopper and one pitting and checking the output, it was quick work. In 3 hours, we were able to make 4 batches of jam and froze ~11lbs of pitted cherries!

We warmed up with a batch-and-a-half of plain cherry jam, according to the Pomona Pectin's recipe. Easy!

Next came a trial at the recommendation of a friend (and I knew she could be trusted) to make Black Forest Jam. The same recipe is floating all over the internets, but for 3 to 4 cups of cherries, it has a staggering 6 1/2 cups of sugar. That wasn't going to happen. No way. I decided to start with 4 and then do a taste test. Definitely enough sugar that way! I used Ball Reduced-Sugar Pectin, but the experience was frustrating and I will use Pomona next time.

Reduced Sugar Black Forest Jam

4 cups chopped and pitted cherries, packed
4 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Penzey's, recipe reviews have emphasized the importance of quality cocoa in this recipe)
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 Tbsp low-sugar of no-sugar pectin (or the equivalent amount of Pomona Pectin and calcium water, next time!)
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur

For the method, I followed this recipe, except one important step: I mixed the powdered pectin in with the sugar and cocoa. And don't forget the amaretto in the end, like I almost did!

After that, I cooked up a batch of this most wonderful recipe for Cherry Rhubarb Ginger Jam, and since I didn't modify it, I won't repeat it. Worked as advertised and I love the taste! It made only 4 half-pint jars for me, though.

The last endeavor was wonderful, a chutney from the book 'Put 'em up' using cherries, onions and Walnuts. I modified it only a little, in that I added one extra cinnamon stick and a little pectin, because that 'natural pectin from the fruit' thing never jibes with my type A personality.

Cherry Walnut Relish

4 cups of pitted, chopped cherries (I used a mix of sweet red ones and not-very-sweet blush ones)
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Tbsp Ball low-sugar or no-sugar pectin (will use Pomona's next time)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Mix sugar and pectin, as usual, and start cooking the cherries with sugar for a few minutes. Then add onion, vinegar and cinnamon sticks and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Add the walnuts for a final few minutes of cooking time. Process for 25 minutes after filling roughly ten 4oz jars. So delicious and pretty!

A little quality time in the canner, and voila! 

In order for the girls to finish this cherry pitting and putting up marathon, we had to kick daddy out of the kitchen, to cook our dinner outside on the grill.... cherry pancakes, of course!

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre
The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre


  1. Wow, those recipes sound amazing. I'm with you, though, using the least amount of sugar possible! I would absolutely love to have cherry pancakes for dinner - that is awesome! Thanks for the recipes and pictures!

  2. Those cherries look SO yummy and bring back some great memories from when we were living in Michigan. And I love your recruits. I have a few of those around my kitchen, too.

  3. Yum!
    Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope you can join us again today at: