Cherry Time is Arriving

By Terri Rozema

cherry pie filling and cherry chutney

I find one of the biggest blessings of summer is the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. Whether perusing a farmer’s market, local farm stand or nearby orchard, it’s inspiring to see what’s growing locally, and then deciding what I’m going to preserve. The month of July is a bountiful one, with gardens growing a plethora of veggies, and orchards offering their first fruits. Here in Michigan, we grow some of the highest quality cherries available, and this blog will be focused on what to do with the cherries that we’ve picked.

There are two cherry types, sweet and tart. Tart are generally used for pies, sweet are best eaten fresh, and both types can be preserved. Whether it’s Yummy Cherry Pie Filling (freezer recipe) or a perfectly balanced Simply Delicious Cherry Chutney (water-bath canning), we can enjoy this delicious fruit all year long, using the proper techniques.

YUMMY CHERRY PIE FILLING
This recipe is great for beginners. Since the filling is frozen, there is no need for water-bath preservation. Yields approximately 8-9 pints.

Ingredients:

17 cups tart cherries
5 cups organic cane sugar
10 tbsp corn starch
Containers for freezing (I recommend Stasher food-grade silicone storage bags, OXO Smart Seal Containers, or Souper Cubes Freezing Trays with Lids)

Directions:

  1. Wash, drain and pit cherries. 
  2. Stir to combine sugar and corn starch, then  fold in cherries.
  3. Wait about 20-30 minutes, until the juices begin to flow out of the cherries. Place mixture into a stainless steel pot on the stove and cook over medium heat until the liquid begins to thicken. 
  4. Ladle pie filling into containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Cool at room temperature for 1-2 hours, no longer. Seal, label and freeze.

My favorite ways to use Yummy Cherry Pie Filling:

  • Over ice cream sprinkled with Dr. Cowan’s Garden Three-Beet Powder.
  • As a filling for mini pies.
  • In a cherry crisp.


SIMPLY DELICIOUS CHERRY CHUTNEY

Items needed:
Water-bath canner, canning jar lifter, wide mouth funnel, lid lifter, canning bubble popper, Ball canning jars (8-ounce)

Preparing the Canner:

  1. Fill Canner and rack 2/3 full with water and add 2 TBSP white vinegar (helps to inhibit hard water residue).
  2. Place water-filled canner and rack (covered) on stove at Med-High; bring to boil; keep at a simmer.
  3. Sterilize jars and lids: Sterilize jars, minus lids, by placing them on a protected cookie sheet; I use a Silpat. Place in an oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Sterilize lids by heating them in barely simmering water for 5 minutes.

Simply Delicious Cherry Chutney Recipe
Adapted from “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving” Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine). Makes about six 8-ounce jars.


Ingredients:

4 1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick, broken
10 cups frozen red tart cherries (pitted) partially thawed and coarsely chopped; or freshly picked sweet black cherries, rinsed, pitted and coarsely chopped.
2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped red or sweet onions
1 cup white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Tie allspice and cinnamon stick into a square cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.
  2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine cherries, apples, onions, vinegar, garlic, salt and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil hard, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. 
  3. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 20 minutes. 
  4. Add raisins and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Discard spice bag.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare canner and lids.
  6. Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed, by adding more chutney. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met. Then increase to fingertip-tight.
  7. Place jars in the canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and
  8. process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Uses for Simply Delicious Cherry Chutney:

  • Serve with pork tenderloin, chops or roast.
  • Spoon over brie, bake at 325 degrees F for 10-25 minutes, and serve with crusty bread.
  • Perfect for a charcuterie board.
  • Pairs well with chèvre.
  • Get super creative and use it as a pizza sauce with mozzarella, Italian sausage or ham, chèvre, bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and parmigiano reggiano cheese.