Monday, July 27, 2009
Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries
I am currently sitting on a stool in my kitchen watching a small gauge creep miniscully upwards. The gauge is on our new pressure canner, which contains 10 pints of Washington's finest Bing cherries (currently on sale for $0.77 a pound!!)
I grew up on a farm, with a huge garden, and summertime canning was a part of life. I didn't appreciate all the love and hard work my parents put into each one of those jars. I didn't understand how wonderful and special it was to eat produce, picked at the perfect time and preserved with all it's summertime flavor, in the blah months of winter. Now, however, I'm beginning to get it. See dad, it only took 30 odd years for me to come full circle.
With my new found appreciation for all the sweat of my childhood, we bought a pressure canner this weekend (FYI - a pressure cooker is not the same thing), the necessary accouterments, and a home preserving cookbook. Sunday we cleaned and pitted 8 pounds of cherries. Those were turned into 7 jars of jam that didn't set correctly and have now been dubbed ice cream topping, and 3 pints of whole cherries. Dan stopped at the store tonight and bought another case of cherries. I cleaned and pitted about half of them to come up with 10 pints of cherries, and the mash to make another attempt at jam. (My first batch does taste awesome - it just didn't set right.)
I also threw some cherries in a crock and covered them with vodka to make cherry infused vodka. It should be ready by Thanksgiving, if all goes well. And of course, the cherries will make an awesome flambe dessert for after the turkey.
Just for kicks, we also are trying to make homemade brandy. Once again, lots of cherries and lots of sugar tossed in a crock. It should ferment and come Thanksgiving, we'll pour off a beautiful cherry brandy. If it goes badly, we'll end up with a crock full of rotten cherries. Either way, it's fun to try!
In the midst of all this, we also bought a wine making kit. I had bought a case of plums that we just couldn't eat fast enough, so of course the logical thing to do is make wine :) The Pinkard Bathtub Winery is currently fermenting 2 gallons of plum "must." (Don't worry, it's in a bucket, but the bucket is in the bathtub downstairs - cool and dark - it's perfect!) We rack it for the first time on Saturday, and if cherries are still on sale we'll buy another case or two to turn into wine. We only have one fermenting barrel, although the future wine generally only spends a week or so there. It is then racked (siphoned with the solid parts removed) into a carboy, where it will ferment for anywhere from 3 months to 3 years, depending on the fruit used and type of wine desired.
More on our canning adventures to come. For now, my cherries need to be rescued. 8 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes has been achieved!