Archive for Wednesday, June 16, 2004

How to preserve cherries, make jam

June 16, 2004

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How do you freeze cherries?

It's cherry-pickin time. When you go out to pick the cherries, select cherries with a deep uniform color and ideal maturity. Don't delay preserving them.

Stem and wash the cherries. Pit if desired. If pitted, immediately place the cherries into cold water containing 1 teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid or six 500 milligrams Vitamin C tablets per gallon to prevent stem-end discoloration. Be sure to crush the Vitamin C tablets. If they are preserved unpitted, prick the skins on the opposite sides with a clean needle to prevent splitting.

Cherries may be packed with syrup or dry sugar.

To make a syrup pack: Mix and dissolve 2 1/2 cups of sugar in 4 cups of water for sour cherries; or mix 1 1/4 cups of sugar in 4 cups of water for sweet cherries. Add 1 cup of syrup to each quart of prepared cherries.

For a sugar pack: Mix 2/3 cup of dry sugar per quart of sour cherries; or 1/3 cup of sugar per quart of sweet cherries.

To package, fill pint- or quart-freezer bags to a level of 3 to 4 inches from the tops. Squeeze out the air, leave 1-inch head space, seal, label and freeze. Before freezing, the bags may be inserted into reusable, rigid-plastic freezer containers for added protection against punctures and leakage.

Can cherries be frozen without sugar added?

Cherries can be packed in water, unsweetened juice or pectin syrup.

However, unsweetened packs generally yield a product that does not have the plump texture and good color of those packed with sugar. The fruits freeze harder and take longer to thaw.

How do you make cherry jam?

Cherry jam can be canned or frozen. Here's recipes for both:

Canned Cherry Jam

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4 cups sweet or sour cherries

1 box powdered pectin

5 cups sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice, if using sweet cherries

Sterilize the canning jars. Wash and pit the ripe cherries. Crush well. Measure the cherries into a saucepan. Add the lemon juice for sweet cherries. Add the powdered pectin. If the pulp is a little dry, a tablespoon or two of water may be added. Place on the heat and stir continuously while bringing to a full boil. Gradually add the sugar, stirring well to dissolve. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly, and boil hard for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and quickly skim off the foam. Pour the jam immediately into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids. Process 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath for altitudes 0-1,000 feet or 10 minutes for 1,001-6,000 feet.

Yield: 6 1/2 cups.

Freezer Cherry Jam

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2 cups pitted and chopped sweet or sour cherries

1 tablespoon lemon juice, if using sweet cherries

4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon citric acid

1 package powdered pectin

3/4 cup water

Add the lemon juice to sweet cherries, if used. Combine cherries, sugar and citric acid. Let stand 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine pectin and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a full boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add pectin to fruit mixture; stir 3 minutes. Ladle jam into canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Let stand at room temperature until set, up to 24 hours.

Label and freeze.

Yield: About 6 half-pints.

I would like to use some of my canned sour cherries in a dessert. Do you have any ideas?

Here is a recipe for Cherry Carnival that is included in "A Kansas Compote -- Select Fruit Recipes," from the Kansas Fruit Growers Assn. This is a great Kansas cookbook for using fresh, frozen and canned fruits. To purchase a copy, contact Perry and Laurie Walters, of McLouth, at (913) 796-6373. This recipe was submitted by Wanda Slagle, of Manhattan.

Cherry Carnival

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1 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup milk

2 cups sour cherries, pitted, well drained (reserve juice for sauce)

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into bowl. Add margarine, sugar, egg and milk. Beat until smooth. Blend in 2 cups cherries. Pour into greased and floured 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees from 30 to 40 minutes. Cut in 3-inch squares. Serve with hot Clear Red Sauce. Serves 9.

Clear Red Sauce

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1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup cherry juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

red food coloring, if desired

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in sauce pan. Gradually stir in the boiling water and juice. Boil one minute and add almond extract and food coloring.

Keep hot and serve over squares of Cherry Carnival.

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