Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cherry Season

Woot! Woot! The cherries are here in a big way and they look amazing this season! My favorites are the Rainier Cherries that are a lovely golden color with a swipe of red blush on their plump cheeks. They have a slightly tarter bite than a Bing Cherry, and then they burst with the familliar sweet.
The snap and splash of eating a fresh, ripe cherry is an annual food love fest for me. I eat them all day long and look for new and interesting ways to share them with my friends.
Here's a recipe from the Ball Book of preserving, a magazine/booklet that the canning jar company has put out every year since 1909! Looking over the one with the recipe I'm about to give, I can't tell you which year this one is from but there's a luscious lemon-looking tart on the cover with a heaping pile of raspberries in the middle. The annual publication covers all the basics of canning and freezing foods including things like pickling, jellies and jams, butters, infusions, and condiments - to use virtually anything you can pull from the garden and then they make you a dedicated follower for life by adding many recipes for new and interesting ways to use the bounty from your Victory Garden.
Yield: About 6 half-pints
3 (12 oz) bags frozen sweet cherries, thawed and drained; or 36-40 ounces fresh pitted cherries
1 pkg powdered pectin
3/4 almond liqueur (I used a generic "Amaretto")
3 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh please!)
4 1/2 cups sugar
While you make the jam, prep your canning jars according to Ball's Blue book or manufacturers instructions.
Finely chop cherries. Combine cherries, powdered pectin, almond liqueur and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if neccesary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

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