Cherry Jam

Cherry Jam

Life is just a bowl of cherries So live and laugh at it all...

I'm definitely laughing. Today's bowl is a jar of cherries - and sugar and pectin and lemon juice - because when you have a cherry tree in your front yard, you need a sense of humor - and a wee bit of creativity.

They are coming in faster than we can use them, so the next round is freezing them. Not in my wildest dreams did I think we would have a crop like this! And thank the gods for the new cherry pitter. I never would have been able to handle these with the little hand-held pitter we have.

Today's jam is about as basic as you can get - no fancy ingredients to mar the taste of the cherries.

Cherry Jam

  • 3 lbs cherries (you need 4 cups chopped)
  • 1 1.75 ounce package regular powdered fruit pectin
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 5 cups sugar

Wash and pit cherries. Coarsely chop.

In a  heavy pot combine the cherries, pectin, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring to combine. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam.

Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace.

Process filled jars in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.

Cherry Jam

We tripled the recipe - 15 cups of sugar!!! - but it came out tasting great!

I see a cherry pie coming up soon...


BBQ Sauce

Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

When we bought our home in the fall of 2020, we [obviously] knew we had several trees in our front yard. What we didn't know, was that one of them is a Cherry Tree!

Cherry Tree

What a surprise! We started by not believing they would be edible, to watching them fall from the tree as unripened fruit. That concerned us, a bit, until we learned that cherry trees will regularly drop 30% of their unripened fruit to concentrate on the remaining. Yeah, Mother Nature.

We're still not sure what variety it is, but our across the street neighbor with the same tree said it is definitely not a Rainier Cherry - and we're both experiencing a bumper crop. Yeah, Mother Nature, again.

Regardless of the variety - they are good!

Today, I decided it was time to start doing things with them - there are just sooooo many! First order of business - Barbecue Sauce. It's officially grilling season here in the Pacific Northwest and I do love our new gas grill...

Plus... I just bought a new cherry pitter. I've had a hand-held pitter for 25 years or so - and it's been great for doing enough cherries for a pie - but we're talking a whole tree, here! Time to up the game.

It worked great.

Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 cups pitted cherries
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 (or more) chipotle chilis in adobo
  • 2 tsp dry ground mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Method:

Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a medium-sized saucepan and cook the onions and garlic until soft and translucent.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until reasonably smooth and continue simmering another 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.

Bottle and refrigerate.

BBQ Sauce

I don't have the proper caps for canning, right now, so it's definitely keep refrigerated. If you want, you can do a boiling water process for 15 minutes.

It's going to be fun to see what else we can come up with!

 

 

 


Chocolate Amarena Cherry Biscotti

Chocolate Amarena Cherry Biscotti

Chocolate Amarena Cherry Biscotti

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Kirsch
  • 1 jar amarena cherries, drained and chopped, syrup reserved
  • 2 tbsp reserved cherry syrup
  • 6 oz chocolate chips

Sift together dry ingredients.  Cream sugar and butter, add eggs one at a time. Add cherries, cherry juice, kirsch, and chocolate chips.  Stir in flour.

Divide dough in half.  Shape into logs.  Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes.

Cool completely.  Slice into 1/2″ slices and toast on both sides in 350° oven.


Polenta Pound Cake with Cherries

05-26-13-polenta-pound-cake

 

I had a 2-pound package of fresh cherries in the 'fridge just screaming to be made into a dessert. And I had a magazine with a polenta pound cake with blueberry sauce. A dessert was born.

The pound cake recipe looked solid - it just needed a few tweaks. The blueberry sauce just looked too expected. The cherries, on the other hand, mixed with key lime juice, was the UNexpected.

I went to work.

I reworked the cake recipe, made up the cherry sauce recipe, and smiled at every bite. The polenta adds a nice little bite to the cake. It changes the texture juuuuuust a tad in a really good way. The pinch of thyme adds a slight hint of savory that plays  off the cherries and key lime. I used dry thyme because my herb garden is still in its infancy. If you use fresh, use more.

Polenta Pound Cake

adapted from Fine Cooking magazine

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups cake flour
  • 1/3 cup polenta
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs - room temperature
  • 1 tbsp key lime juice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, thyme, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add key lime juice and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few small, moist crumbs attached, 75 to 90 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 15 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate or cutting board. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature, topped with the cherries.

Key Lime Cherry Sauce

  • 1 pound fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp key lime juice
  • pinch salt

Combine ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil and let boil uninterrupted for about 5 minutes. Cool and then chill. Serve cold or at room temp.

The cherries would totally rock over ice cream and the pound cake could be eaten out of hand.

Two separate concepts that just rock together.

 


Pork Tenderloin with Cherries

I had a few cherries left - maybe a cup and a half - that were close to losing their oomph.  Not being able to let things go to waste, I thought a cherry sauce on a pork tenderloin would be a fun way to use them up.

A million or so years ago I worked at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe.   I was hired as a cook at their gourmet lakeside restaurant, Hugo's Rotisserie.  Hugo's signature dish was the rotisserie duck.  Unbelievably good, it came as a classic l'orage, with a green peppercorn sauce, and a magnificent cherry sauce, among others...  I think we used Montmorencies, but I'm not really sure.  It was 1976.  The fact that I remember I lived at Take Tahoe at all is rather remarkable.

That sauce had our hand-made demi-glace, kirsch, the cherries... it was silken-smooth and studded with perfectly-halved cherries.  As it should be in a gourmet resort hotel restaurant.

I knew I wasn't about to replicate that sauce but I also knew "savory" and "cherry" went very well together.  I had several directions I could go.

I decided a bit spicy-sweet was the way to go...

Cherry Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cup cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Saute onion, garlic, and peppers in a bit of olive oil until wilted.  Add tomato paste and cook to remove raw tomato taste.  Add cumin and cook to remove raw taste.  Add tomatoes, wine, and vinegar.  mix well.

Add cherries and heat through.  Mash some cherries to release juices.

Check for seasoning and ass salt and pepper, as desired.

The flavor-profile was at the opposite end of the spectrum from Hugo's, but it worked really well.  The slightly-southwestern spices with the sweet cherries was a fun combination.  And it worked perfectly with a grilled pork tenderloin.

 

 


Brownies and Cherries

Fresh cherries + chocolate brownie mix = quick and easy dessert!

Brownies are totally easy to make from scratch but I almost always have a box in the cupboard for my lazier-than-lazy moments.

I still had a few fresh cherries left in the 'fridge, so, armed with my trusty cherry-pitter, I went to work.

We swear that we don't buy single-use gadgets and the like although the kitchen does seem to be full of them.  I bought this particular single-use gadget when I entered the San Leandro Cherry Festival Cherry Pie Contest in 2000.  I won 2nd Place!

So my good-luck cherry pitter has been living in a drawer ever since, coming out now and again to say hi...

I do love a good batch of fresh cherries.  And there really are so many different varieties that come to the market.  One of my favorites are Rainier Cherries from Washington.  The closer you are to them, the better they taste.

The cherries in the brownies were dark red cherries.

I added about 5 minutes to the box baking time to allow for the additional moisture.

They came out just fine...

 

And they cut much nicer once they cooled...