Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Local eating: cherry time

You start with some of these, fresh-picked from a local orchard;
Take the pits out using a cherry pitter, if you wish -- or leave them in as my grandmother did to add a hint of almond flavor (and you never have to wonder if a cherry has a pit in it because they all do):

Sometimes you get some "help" with the pitting. This is The General, having a fruity snack:

Load the cherries into jars with some hot sugar syrup (1 part sugar to 4 parts water for light syrup), leave about 1/2 inch air space, wipe the tops, put on new lids, screw on the rings, and put them in a canner -- in this case, my new steam canner, which uses a lot less water and a lot less electricity than my old water bath canner, and won't endanger my glass-top stove:

And after processing for 25 minutes and tightening the rings, voila!

Today's score: out of about 19 pounds of cherries, I canned up 28 pints of dark cherries and a few left for fresh eating. All but two of the pints sealed. I may reprocess the failed two, or just eat 'em now. Tomorrow I'll wash the jars and put them away for the winter.

It's such a good feeling to have glistening jars of jewel-bright canned fruit filling the pantry shelves. You feel like you're heading into winter ready for anything. As a bonus, home-canned fruit tastes ever so much better than store-bought, especially peaches. Store-bought canned peaches are bland, peach-flavored plastic. Home-canned peaches, put up at the peak of ripeness, are pure ambrosia.

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