Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finally I did something with our cherries!

A long long time ago, I posted about our two sour cherry trees and their wonderful bounty that we didn't know what to do with. Alas, I think we will not have this problem for much longer.

This spring Mulch had to take down one of the cherries as it succumbed to some cherry tree disease we were helpless to stop. Now we watch the remaining tree nervously, as several branches have died off. Maybe that's normal; we don't know. Mulch thought the bloom this spring was much less than normal. I'm not sure; these trees have never been big fancy bloomers like the ornamental cherries.

Still, there is fruit this summer. Unfortunately, the remaining cherry tree has grown rather a lot... up.  And the majority of the fruit is 15 feet up where we can't reach it. No, we don't have a ladder, and even if we did, we're both afraid of ladders, at least on uneven ground.

I was determined to do something with the cherries we could reach, though, and night before last found my inspiration while perusing a canning magazine from Better Homes and Gardens that I bought on impulse at the supermarket checkout last year. In the magazine, I found this recipe (the magazine is no longer available, but the identical recipe is available in the Better Homes and Garden Can It! cookbook, from which I copied the image below):

It should also mention you need to wear an apron or at least a shirt that is already red.
Did you see that caption? It says this goes good with CORNBREAD.
I determined I would secretly make this jam for Mulch Boy, essentially killing two birds with one stone: using the precious cherries FINALLY, and coming one step closer to actual canning (this is a goal of mine for which I've endured some mocking from Mulch Boy, as I bought canning jars last summer and never actually did anything with them).

Yesterday I arrived home from work, intent upon my scheme. Except I forgot I had no blueberries or pectin. Luckily, Mulch called to see if I needed anything from the store, and since it turns out he had no idea what pectin was, he was none the wiser for my grocery list.

The pups and I went to the backyard to gather the harvest. I picked every cherry I could reach, then took them inside to weigh and encountered hitch #2: I had only a half pound (exactly!) of cherries, and the recipe called for a pound. Well.

I hate cutting recipes in half, as I almost always forget to halve at least one ingredient. But unless Mr. Fantastic showed up at my doorstep looking for garden work, halving the recipe was my only option. Ah well, a pint and a half of homemade jam is still pretty exciting, right?

After pitting my cherries and permanently staining one of my good work shirts (why didn't I change clothes when I got home?) Mulch Boy arrived with the rest of my ingredients. He wasn't as thrilled by the project as I had hoped, but by this time I was excited enough for us both. (Side effect, no doubt, of my out of control cornbread enthusiasm.)

With all the ingredients at hand, it was simply a matter of mooshing the blueberries with the precious potato masher (I'll write about Mulch Boy's potato masher sometime), boiling the pectin, then mixing it all together. I ladled the jam into two canning jars--one filled and one only halfway filled--and there they sit on the kitchen counter now, hopefully jelling. Tonight I'll see if they set and put the full jar in the freezer.

Of course, I couldn't wait for it to set to try it, so I made a slice of buttery toast for dessert last night and slathered it with the still drippy jam from the half-filled jar. How was it? Let's just say I'm trying to figure out how to harvest the rest of those cherries without ending up in the ER.


  1. Yum! Time to make more cornbread. Cherries probably don't work like mulberries, where you just shake the tree and they fall off.

    Oh, and here's what you can do with extras: give them away. To me, for instance. Or trade me cherries now for blackberries next month.

    1. If I could only get up there and pick the cherries up at the top, you'd have a deal! After a little Internet investigating, I find that my poor cherry was never properly pruned, and thus the inaccessible shape. I'm considering taking a saw to it and setting things right.

    2. My plum tree needs some serious re-shaping, too. I'm determined to get that done this winter. Emergency pruning last May is part of why it is so misshapen now.