Vanilla Lime Spirited Cherries

2014 Jul 27_1225

Child Picks CherriesFive years ago I bought a little self-fertilizing dwarf sweet cherry whip from Jung’s nursery – a variety called Black Gold Sweet Cherry.  Gardening with edibles is my passion; unfortunately my yard is less than ideal for such a hobby.   The word “postage-stamp” comes to mind when describing it.  In addition to its limited size, a large maple and a north-facing growing space limit sunlight.  Despite these challenges, I have (in my humble opinion) managed to create a fairly pleasing landscape with a number of edibles.  Over the years I have had some epic failures in my edible gardeniGirl Picks Cherriesng adventures but also some smashing successes.  This sweet cherry tree is the latter—a prolific producer of sweet cherries in a tight space with sub-optimum sunlight.

Hands Full of CherriesWe picked a record 6+ pounds of cherries this year from this little tree. The unprecedented bounty caught me by surprised and sans a cherry pitter.  Cherries have a short shelf life.  No way to eat them all fresh and no desire to pit even 3 pounds with a paper clip.

Canning in syrup without pitting seemed the obvious choice. Canning with the pits has some cons.  The pits dictate that you must eat them out of the jar as is—no future cherry pie or jam making as you could with frozen.   On the pro side, canning with pits adds a lovely almond flavor to the cherries.  If I use them as garnishes in drinks then I don’t think anyone will be overwhelmed with the nuisance of pit spitting.  Olives have pits.  Fresh cherries have pits.  People can deal.

And since I’m using the preserved cherries in drinks, why not throw in a bit of booze with the syrup— spirited cherries.  Given my intractable pioneer sentiments, I normally wouldn’t waste my precious cherry crop on such a frivolous food enterprise.  “Do we really need spirited cherries to make it through the long, cold winter?”  (This is the way my mind works, people—obsessive compulsive utilitarianism).  But, actually I do need these to make it through the winter, and they will serve a purpose because back in January, at the Tosa Ladies Book Club annual planning meeting, I volunteered to host our Christmas Party.   I have had the privileged of being a member of this book club for 10 years and I know from experience that a few of those gals take their cocktails very seriously.  Spirited Cherries shall serve as the foundation and inspiration for the required holiday cocktail.  I’m thinking Manhattans or Cherry Lime Rickies, but I’m open to suggestions.

Meanwhile,   I’m off to Door county to pick more cherries  so I’ll have plenty of cherries for cocktail recipe testing.   My new Oxo cherry Pitter arrived in the mail and I’m itching to use it.

Spirited Cherries for Canning--The Ingredients

Spirited Cherries
Author: 
Recipe type: Food Preservation
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 3 - 3.5 pints
 
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds cherries, washed only (do not remove stems or seeds)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup brandy (vodka or rum)
  • ¾ cups bottled lime juice
  • 1-2 vanilla beans
  • Optional Additional Spices--1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise flower, or a few cloves
Instructions
  1. Wash all canning jars, lids and screw caps. Place the jars in the hot water bath canner and simmer. Place the lids in a smaller sauce pan filled with water and keep those at a low simmer too. Set screw bands aside on a dry towel.
  2. In a non-reactive medium pot, add sugar, water, brandy, and lime.
  3. Make a slit length-wise down the vanilla bean. Scrape out the sticky seeds and place in the pot along with the vanilla bean pod. Add any other spices if desired.
  4. Bring the ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.
  5. Add cherries and bring to a boil again--boil for 1 minute longer.
  6. Remove from heat and pack hot cherries and syrup into sanitized, hot jars. Leave ½ inch head space.
  7. Remove bubbles with a skewer, wipe rims with a damp cloth and place lids on jars. Tighten screw bands to finger tip tight and place in the canner making sure the jars are under water by at least an inch.
  8. Place lid on canner and bring to a boil. Start timing at boiling--15 minutes( at 1000 ft altitude or less)
  9. Once time is up, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Time for another 5 minutes.
  10. Remove jars from canner and allow to cool for 12 hours at least.
Notes
It takes about 1 pound of cherries to fill a single pint jar.

*You may substitute lemon juice for lime, however be sure to always use bottled and not fresh for canning recipes as the acidity level of fresh varies too much.

Cherries

Wash the cherries but leave the stems and pits.

 

Spirited Cherries--preparing the syrup

Bring the water, sugar, lime, brandy (or other spirit) and vanilla beans and pod (plus any additional spices) to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  This is the syrup.

Spirited Cherries--heating on stove for hot pack

Add the cherries to the syrup and bring to a boil again, boiling for about 1 minute.

Laddle the hot cherries and syrup into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Process pints for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 minutes.  Spirited Cherries

See my instructions for Hot Water Bath Canning if you need instructions.

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Homemade Applesauce for Canning—Rich, Rustic, Caramelize Sweetness in a Jar

Every year just as growing season comes to an end, I make at least 10 quarts of applesauce and can it.  It takes a lot of energy to make 2½ gallons of applesauce, and truthfully, I don’t always feel joy in my heart as I go through the process.  However, the taste and flavor of homemade applesauce overshadows the toil and labor of the processing.  Store-bought simply cannot compare to the homemade product.  Besides, the children rave about it, request it, nay, demand it, and how can you say “no” to that sort of praise especially over such a healthy, wholesome food.

To lighten the load and put the joy back into canning, I usually enlist the help of a friend or two and dedicate an afternoon.  I also process smaller portions here and there throughout November and December, and at these times, I use the help of the kids.

In addition to helping hands, the right tool for the job can make all the difference.  Get an apple peeler/corer gadget.  It makes peeling and coring manageable; some would even say—particularly the kids—fun! I bought mine at a big box store 5 years ago for $13.00 and it still works like a charm.

My recipe consists of one ingredient—apples.  Any sort of apple will do, even the less flavorful varieties like red delicious. Any sort of condition will suffice.  Why transform crunchy, pristine beauties into mush when so many sweet and homely ones are looking for a place to shine. I generally buy seconds (apples with flaws sold at a discount) from my farmer, and cut away any bad parts.

Some may want to add spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.  I am a bit of a purest about my applesauce preferring to enjoy the unsullied flavor of caramelized apples.  Not everyone shares my opinion; I respect that.  Add spices if you wish. It will not impact the safety of the canned product.

Useful Weights and Measures

  • 4 pounds of apples makes 1 quart of applesauce
  • 1 peck of apples is about 12.5 pounds
  • ½ bushel of apples is about 25 pounds
  • 1 bushel of apples is about 50 pounds

Homemade Apple Sauce

Ingredients

  • Apples

Steps

  1. Gather and prepare your jars and canning equipment. See How to Can Pickles and Fruits if you need a canning tutorial
  2. Begin peeling and coring your apples. After peeling and coring a few, toss them into a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid.
  3. Cook the apples on a medium-low heat with the lid on.
  4. Continue peeling, coring and tossing apples into the pot as you go.
  5. With a masher, mix and crush the cooking apples every 3 – 5 minutes.  Be certain to return the lid to the pot after each time you add more apples.
  6. If the apples seem to be cooking too slowly, increase the heat a little at a time.  If they begin scorching add a bit of water and reduce the heat.  The goal is to cook them slowly in their own juices without added water.  This makes for a rich flavorful applesauce.  Time and heat should soften them with minimal mashing.
  7. After the last apple is added cook at least 10 more minutes.
  8. Once the desired golden color is reached and the apples are thoroughly cooked, you may smooth out the texture further with an emersion blender.
  9. Keep the sauce simmering as you add it to canning jars.  Leave ½ inch head space and process both pints and quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner.
  10. Once processed and cooled completely, remove screw bands and wipe the jars thoroughly. (The applesauce leaches out during canning and creates a sticky mess on the outside of the jar.)  Label and date.

Cooking with Kids:  The little one gives a tutorial on using the apple peeler/corer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Tomato Salsa Recipe for Canning…so far.

My family enthusiastically rushes to the table whenever I make Mexican anything.  For us, no condiment better complements Mexican foods than salsa fresca—that fresh and feisty combination of onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and lime.  For about 6 months of the year, this posed no problem as fresh tomatoes are easily accessible, but the other 6 months…well, I got a problem.  Because we try to eat local as much as possible, the solution seems apparent, just can some salsa during tomato season.  So I tried that again and again and again.   I searched for years to find a decent, tested tomato salsa recipe for canning with no success.

Faced with disappointment, I put the dream of a good canned tomato salsa on the shelf and moved on to explore other options.  We tried commercial brands, even high-end ones, but with their mushy texture and over-cooked flavor we unanimously rejected them all.

Making salsa fresca with out-of-season grocery store tomatoes also met with dead-end results.  Grape tomatoes had an acceptable flavor, but a thick skin and high price made them an un-solution.  Roasting paste tomatoes enhanced their flavor but made a sloppy salsa and took too much time.  I thought that I had arrived at the perfect solution when I discovered the Kumato—a rich, red-brown tomato perfectly packaged in cellophane.  While pricy, the flavor was excellent particularly considering the source and the season.  But when something seems too good to be true, it is.  A bit of research revealed that Syngenta, the company that developed the Kumato, collided with my ethics.  Syngenta has patented the Kumato’s seeds and strictly regulates the farmers allowed to grow the plant.  I believe that farmers have a right to save seeds and that life cannot be patented, and I am back to square one.

So this summer I once again took up the crusade to find a decent canned salsa recipe, and I think that I finally got it.   While it does require cooking before canning (thus diminishing that fresh flavor), it doesn’t taste overcooked. It uses lime, the logical choice to acidify the tomato salsa–a far superior flavor compared with vinegar.  It has adequate cilantro flavor, and the texture, because it uses paste tomatoes, remains firm.  Although nothing compares to salsa fresa with vine-ripened tomatoes, this is a good substitute with the added benefit of convenience. Once made and on the shelf, it essentially becomes an instant food—a blessing if not a lifesaver at times when you have 10 minutes to prepare a meal for hungry, whining kids.

Use safe canning practices.  Click her for step-by-step hot water-bath canning instructions.

Best Tomato Salsa Recipe for Canning...so far.
Author: 
Recipe type: Preserving
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 half pints
 
Recipe adapted from University of Wisconsin Extension Salsa publication.
Ingredients
  • 7 cups peeled, cored, seeded and chopped paste tomatoes (about 3½ lbs.)
  • 1 cup seeded and finely chopped green chilies—from hot to mild
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • ½ cup bottled lime juice
  • 2 t salt
  • ½ t cumin
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except cilantro in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Add cilantro and simmer for another 10 minutes; continue stirring.
  3. Ladle into hot half-pint jars leaving ½ head space.
  4. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes at 0—1000 feet altitude; 20 minutes at 1001-6000 feet; or 25 minutes about 6000 feet.
Notes
You can easily double or triple this recipe. I like to use ½ pint jars to can salsa but you can follow these same instructions and use pint jars.

Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles–The Full Ferment

Revised on August 7, 2014:

Deli-style Kosher Dills, like the ones you get at any respectable delicatessen, are a “must” on my list of foods to make and preserve. Since gherkin cucumber season is winding down, I’ve got to get to the farmers market early to make sure I get enough.    Twelve pounds of gherkins will get my family through a winter of  “Sandwich Night Wednesdays”  plus the occasional packed lunch with a few more quarts to give away to those friends and families who prize pickles as much as I do. If you have attempted the Half Sour, be brave and take that next step— Deli-style Kosher Dills.   It’s actually quite easy— time and microbes do most of the work.  For a quick overview of the fermentation process, check out Fermentation Pickling Primer. Currants and leavesI add currant leaves to my kosher dills while they ferment.  Not only do they impart a unique and wholly enjoyable smoky flavor, but currant (grape and sour cherry) leaves also contain an enzyme which keeps the cucumbers crisp as they ferment.  If you don’t have a currant bush, grape vine or sour cherry cherry tree, ask your farmer.  Currants grow everywhere in Wisconsin.  In my postage stamp garden, I have 7 currant bushes.  They grow with little care and in the shade, which perfectly suits my gardening style and garden.

DIRECTIONS FOR FERMENTING PICKLES–DELI-STYLE KOSHER DILLSDeli-style Kosher Dills--Ingredients Equipment for Pickling

#1–Gather all the ingredients and equipment:

Ingredients for Fermenting

  • About 3 ½ lbs. pickling cucumbers (3 –5 inches), blossom ends removeBlossom-Endd
  • 6 large sprigs of fresh dill
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 T pickling spice
  • About 12-15 currant or sour cherry leaves (Optional)

Ingredients for the Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 3/4 heaping cup salt
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (5% acidity)

Equipment for fermenting

Equipment for Fermenting Pickles

  • 6 quart vessel– The picture above shows other vessels I like to use when fermenting more or less cucumbers. Any non-reactive container is fine.
  • Food-grade seal-able plastic bag (like a Ziplock storage) large enough to keep cucumbers submerged

#2–Scrub cucumbers and shave off the blossom-end with a knife or scratch off with your nail (See picture above).  The blossom-end contains enzymes which may soften the cucumber. Deli-Style Kosher Dills--Soaking cucumbers in an ice water bath

#3–(Optional) Soak the cucumbers in an ice water bath for 6-24 hours to maximize crispness.  This isn’t absolutely necessary, but if they are straight from the garden or farmers market, it does help to remove the field heat and keep them crisp.

Deli-style Kosher Dills--Preparing the brine and ingredients #4–Prepare a 5% brine solution–4 quarts water + 3/4 heaping cups canning salt + 1/2 cup flavorful vinegar (optional).  Thoroughly mix until the salt is dissolved.  Add a portion of the brine–about 1 quart–to a strong, food grade plastic bag and seal. I use 1 gallon Ziplock freezer or storage bag. This is your weight to keep the pickles submerged.

Weighted pickles with a brine filled bag #5–Add the cucumbers, dill, garlic spices and leaves to the vessel with the 3 quarts of remaining brine. Place the sealed bag of brine on top of cucumbers making sure that all of the cucumbers are completely submerged. It is necessary to keep them submerged so they are in an anaerobic environment.  Fermentation and lactic acid can only occur in an anaerobic environment.

#6–Check pickles every few days skimming off the white scum.  The pickles should be ready in about 2 weeks (no more than 4).  You’ll know they are done when they are a uniform olive green and taste like a pickle.Deli-style Kosher Dills--fermentation complete

#7–Remove the pickles from the brine and rinse off any yeast.  Strain the brine twice: First in a colander to remove spices and herbs. Second, through a coffee filter to reduce cloudiness. Store pickles in the brine in the refrigerator; they should keep for about a year.   (See directions for canning the pickles below).

Cooking with Kids: I let the kids do most of the work with making pickles. It’s perfect for them.  It involves lots of washing, water, mixing and measuring.  Other than measuring the correct amount of salt, this isn’t precision work, nor does it involve knives or fire.  I also let them skim off the yeast and mold over the 2 – 3 weeks it takes for the pickles to ferment.  They especially love this task for unknown reasons.  I’m guessing the “Yuck Factor” plays a role or maybe it is just the miracle of witnessing something appear from seemingly nothing.

 

If you want to can them for long-term pantry storage, read on.  You may also want to click on the  link for a quick tutorial in Hot water-bath can.

Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles

DIRECTIONS FOR CANNING YOUR FERMENTED DELI-STYLE KOSHER DILLS

STEP 1–Gather all your ingredients and canning equipment:

Ingredients for Canning

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Crushed red pepper flakes or whole hot pepper (optional)
  • Mustard seeds (optional)
  • Sprigs of fresh dill
  • Fermented pickles
  • Filtered brine or freshly made brine—¼ cup salt : 2 quarts water : 2 cups vinegar (5% acidity)

Equipment for Canning

Boil the brineSTEP 2–If you have not done so, filter brine through a coffee filter. Next, boil for five minutes. If you do not like a cloudy brine, you may make new by combining ¼ cup salt : 2 quarts water : 2 cups vinegar (5% acidity) and boiling this for 5 minutes. I sometimes use a combination of fresh and fermented brine. Pack pickles into clean hot jarsSTEP 3–Meanwhile, pack pickles into clean, hot, canning jars along with 1 – 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced and ¼ t crushed red pepper or 1 t mustard seeds and fresh dill. Pour Hot brine

STEP 4–Pour in hot brine over the pickles leaving ½ inch head space. Use a hot-water bath to can the pickles; process pint jars for 10 minutes, quart jars for 15 minutes. canning canned deli-style kosher dills

Copyright Notice: Local Global Kitchen images and original content are copyright protected.  Please do not publish these materials without prior consent.