Sour Cherries in Syrup: The First Harvest

Sour Cherries in Syrup: The First Harvest

The first harvest from our backyard trees yielded six pounds. Instead of our regular Sour Cherry Preserves recipe, we decided to try one from Kevin West’s book Saving the Season.

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What we like about the recipe is that because it uses red currant jelly, which has a high pectin level, you don’t have to cook the shit out of the cherries and decimate them into little red cherry-raisins while you wait for a gel set. We were excited to have bouncy red cherries in our preserves. So we pitted the cherries, then let them sit in their lemon juice and sugar overnight.

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Because of the red currant jelly, the recipe uses less sugar than our regular recipe. But after we started the recipe, we realized we did not have red currant jelly left from last year, and could not find any at the store.

I was about to just give up and go with our regular recipe, so I added a bit more sugar to the mixture. Then I remembered I had quince jelly. It was more like quince jello — it’s about the consistency of honey, because I had let it set so long — so I was worried the pectin level would be even higher than the currants. Let’s just say I was winging it at this point.

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A bit too much sugar, a little too little quince jam, waiting for it to set.

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I thought it was at the gel point at this point.

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But once I started canning, I realized I was wrong. They turned out to be more like cherries in syrup rather than sour cherry preserves.

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Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Here’s Kevin’s recipe. May you follow it better than I did.

Kevin West's Sour Cherry Preserves

Kevin West's Sour Cherry Preserves

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds sour cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 8 ounces apple jelly or red currant jelly
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons kirsch

Instructions

  1. Combine the cherries and the lemon juice in a ceramic mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar. Allow to macerate for several hours or overnight. If overnight, refrigerate and press parchment paper or plastic wrap onto the fruit's surface to prevent browning.
  2. Strain the fruit-sugar mixture through a colandar and catch the syrup in a bowl. Allow to drip for 15 minutes. In a preserving pan, reduce the syrup over high heat until thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes after it has first come to a boil. Stir in the jelly until it dissolves. Add the cherries, and reduce over high heat another 3 to 5 minutes, the check the gel set. Stir in the kirsch, if using.
  3. Turn off the heat, and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the fruit is evenly distrubuted throughout the syrup. Ladle the hot preserves into four prepared 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal and prcoess in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
http://sourcherryfarm.com/2015/06/17/sour-cherries-in-syrup-the-first-harvest/

 

Kevin West’s Sour Cherry Preserves

5 pounds sour cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 cups sugar
8 ounces apple jelly or red currant jelly
Optional: 2 tablespoons kirsch

Combine the cherries and the lemon juice in a ceramic mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar. Allow to macerate for several hours or overnight. If overnight, refrigerate and press parchment paper or plastic wrap onto the fruit’s surface to prevent browning.

Strain the fruit-sugar mixture through a colandar and catch the syrup in a bowl. Allow to drip for 15 minutes. In a preserving pan, reduce the syrup over high heat until thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes after it has first come to a boil. Stir in the jelly until it dissolves. Add the cherries, and reduce over high heat another 3 to 5 minutes, the check the gel set. Stir in the kirsch, if using.

Turn off the heat, and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the fruit is evenly distrubuted throughout the syrup. Ladle the hot preserves into four prepared 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal and prcoess in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

 

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