Friday, May 20, 2011

Picking Pitting and Canning: Cherries!

What a day! Farmville has nothing on me! Haha!

Halloween, our furkid, went to the vet this morning for her fix (spade). We'll be picking her up tomorrow morning.

We headed out after a breakfast of toast all around, to Clyde's farm to pick cherries after a phone call last night saying, the birds are eating them, come as soon as you are able!
Clyde has 3 grown trees with tart little cherries. There are more than that number but these are small and many will be transplanted to my in-laws this fall. Sadly, these trees, which in the past have been so full its taken hours to pick, were only partly full of cherries and many of these were either half eaten by birds and bugs or weren't ripe. We got about 3 1/2 to 4 gallons. The trees here on the property aren't ready for picking yet.

We got the buckets of cherries back to the house where we pitted them by hand (they're too small for cherry pitters) and put them through a mesh to collect the juice (the remaining pits and fruit are composted and if any saplings grow we are considering selling them at the farmers market).

And then I got to can jelly for the first time ever! Now, I did watch jelly and vegetable canning last year but my participation ended at harvesting and pitting/stringing/cutting.
I watched and took the experience in as if I were taking a class. I write the recipe down and made notes on everything Kathy said about canning.
I am proud to say that my first batch ever (7 jars total) was a delicious success!

The recipe is pretty straight forward.
3 1/2 cups cherry juice
1/2 tsp butter
1 box gelatin/fruit pectin
4 cups sugar

Mix juice, butter and gelatin in a large pot (we used stainless steel) and bring to a hard boil stirring all the while.
Add sugar and stir, bring to hard boil again and stir 1 minute.
After exactly 1 minute, bring off heat and ladle into jars (using a funnel).

Notes (I'll try and keep them comprehensive and coherent...but no promises)

Jars: make sure to have good jars, as weak ones are likely to crack, break or even shatter during canning. We used Bell brand. Kerr is also a good brand.
As for the lids, do not reuse the flat part of the lid as the rubber will not re-seal for a second use.

Equipment: always wash equipment in between batches. Dry jelly jars COMPLETELY before filling (water will ruin your jelly).

Making the jelly:
~ The 1/2 tsp of butter is to prevent foaming
~ Only ever make 1 batch at a time. Doubling up tends to create jelly that will not set.
~ If juice falls under the 3 1/2 c measurment, add up to 1/2 cup of water (Kathy also recommends 1/4 cup lemon juice).
~ Add 30 seconds to last hard boil to help jelly to solidify if its coming runny.
~ Never set jars of jelly just made on the counter (always put a towel down), cool surfaces will speed the cooling and cause jars to burst.
~ Do not waterbath jelly, even though some instructions say to do so.

Well thats that on the notes.
I was inspired to experiment and wrote my ideas down on jellies I would like to create in the future.
I plan on researching
~ Flower jellies (hydrosol + sugar + gelatin)
~ Jellies made with fruit AND herbs
~ Superfood/herb jellies
(Specific combos: st. johns wort and cherry, apples and apple blossoms, rose and lavender with honey, blueberry and thyme)
~ the use of stevia or coconut sap for a low glycemic jelly
~ the use of coconut butter instead of cow butter to prevent foaming for a vegan recipe

Simply want to sign off by saying I had soooo much fun today and plan to add pictures to this post later on when I find the camera cable...

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