Sunday, June 26, 2011


I must be some kind of masochist to have taken on pitting 21 pounds of cherries. By hand. No pitters over here. No sirree, Bob. Just good old fashioned do-it-yourself lunacy. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. I sat in front of the boob tube ensconced in several layers of towels to prevent the deep red spray of these juicy suckers from staining the couch. Took me a few hours, but Jane Austen got me through the trials and tribulations. I should have thought to cover the computer as I'm having to look past the drips in order to type this post.

So what does one do with 21 pounds of cherries?

A lot. This year, I'm pushing past my tendencies to veer towards the safe, plain, tried and true preserves. New preserving territory will be explored. Flavors will be experimented with. I'm sure my cautious nature stems from the fact that jamming and preserving are a lot of work. Aside from the pitting, there is the several hours that you will spend hovering over a hot stove. Who wants to have put in all that time and effort producing something that might taste nasty?

So far, throwing caution to the wind has paid off. Four types of cherry preserves were put up and they all turned out scrumptious.

Here are the recipes and results.

Cherry Lisbon Lemon Jam

Lisbon lemons have a hint of lime flavor to them, which gave the jam a good citrus tang. The following is the list of ingredients I used. You can find general preserving instructions here.

7 cups cherries
5 1/4 cups sugar
zest and juice from 2 Lisbon lemons

Combine all ingredients and simmer until setting point. Be careful not to overcook. The above link tells you that you will need to use pectin in order to get cherries to set. I have not found that to be the case, however with berries and cherries that there is a fine line between jelling and carmelization. I have a tendency to cook these jams for too long and end up with a preserve that once refrigerated is so firm that moving a knife through it is harder than wading through setting cement. While cooking, put a dish in the freezer so that you can pull it out and test for jelling by pouring a glob on the frozen plate (turn off burner when testing so that you don't overcook). Once cooled, the jam should wrinkle when you push your finger into it. When jelled, process in water bath according to instructions in above link.

Cherry Kirsch Jam

Lucky me, I had a bottle of real kirsch sitting around.  It was brought to me several years ago by a friend who was visiting from Germany. Since I don't drink, it has sat on my shelf unopened for at least three years. I could think of no finer way to use it (except maybe in fondue) than with cherries. The kirsch made a fine sweet jam with an added kick.

7 cups cherries
5 1/4 cups sugar
a shot or more of kirsch, depending on taste

Unlike the cherry lemon jam, you don't want to add the flavoring ingredient until the end of cooking. Once the jam has reached its set, add the kirsch.

Cherry Olives

I found this recipe in one of the old Ortho Books (ironically owned by Chevron Chemical Company) on pickling.

2 pounds sweet cherries (either pitted or left whole and pricked with a pin)

Wash cherries and put in hot, sterilized jars. If using pint jars, add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, and 1/2 cup of vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) to each jar (for have pints use half of the measurements). Fill the rest of the jar with water. Process in water canning bath for 5 minutes. Refrigerate and let jars stand about 1 month before using so that the flavor can develop.

Five Spice Cherry Pickles

I got this awesome recipe over at Leena Eats blog. If you love cherries, you should try this one. They are seriously addictive. I used apple cider vinegar rather than the called for white vinegar and really like the flavor.

Are you doing anything interesting with cherries this year?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. This year I made cherry jam, cherry rhubarb jam (which is AMAZING), whole cherries in syrup (with cinnamon and clove - an alternative to the marachino in drinks, I'm thinking), and a bunch of cherries in booze with Meyer lemon peel.

    I have a super cheap hand-pitter that I LOVE. I can do a lb of cherries in 5 min.

    We should trade preserves!

  2. Heck yeah we should trade preserves! And can I borrow your pitter next year? :)

  3. OMG, Heidi, you put me to shame!

    Last year, I bought cherries from the Noe Valley Farmer's Market, and made from scratch a cherry pie. I thought the manual labor of pitting all those cherries was something I would never do again, unless I had a passel of kids to do it (not likely). I don't know how many cherries I had -- maybe a pint or two? I certainly did not have 21 POUNDS!!!

    In any case, the pie came out great. But I would rather buy pie from the or, so I could focus on arranging flowers or folding napkins for my guests.

    My hat is off to you!

  4. I want your kirsch (grandpa's stomach medicine;-)! I am going to have to make a trip to SF this fall to sample everything. And you must serve a little of everything when I come!

  5. Now I know what to get you for Christmas. Nicole sells an awesome cherry pitter for about $20 I think.

  6. A little tip on pitting with a 'pitter' (haven't tried with a paperclip, chopstick etc), try pitting them frozen; less splatter and they hold their shape better (especially if they are VERY ripe).

  7. I'm making bourbon cherries, vodka vanilla cherries, and spiced rum cherries. I'm getting holiday presents out of the way now.

  8. @ Rachel - those sound super yummy! i'm going to do a post soon on how to package your preserves for gifts with some cool freebie labels.

    @ Kibtzknitz - won't your fingers get frozen?

    @ the Hoff - thanks lady :)

  9. Heidi, you're insane (and that's why we love you so much!). You know, I know a girl who sells a really great pitter. Maybe we could trade cherry preserves for a pitter?

  10. Those look amazing. I think our cherries up here have a bit longer before they are ready for picking. Did you use sweet cherries, or pie cherries?

  11. @ k-koira - i used sweet cherries.

  12. I made Bourbon Cherries and Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

  13. @ fc - i will totally trade with you. you are awesome!

  14. @ Heidi: I use a pitter, so haven't had a problem. But if you use a paperclip, etc. the cherries might be too 'stiff' to pit well (and frozen fingers!).

  15. I'm making sweet cherry pickles (adopting a recipe from BH&G canning magazine this year); trying to come up with a cherry lemon marmalade recipe of my own, and earlier this year I made maraschino cherries for cocktails. I don't like the commercial variety!

    I really go crazy after apple picking...they're a lot easier to come by on the East Coast. Cherries are rara avis.

  16. Oh, p.s. I use an old-fashioned hair pin to pit my cherries.

  17. This is such a new taste sensation for me....can't wait to try it. I have friended a lovely Texan woman (91 Years young) and I would love to surprise her with her favorite memory taste.