Thanks to our friends at the Washington State Fruit Commission, we’ve got cherries on the brain — and on the stove, and in jars. For the second year in a row, we’ve been gifted with bing cherries like nobody’s business. In celebration, we’ll be dishing up the myriad ways you can preserve cherries all week long. Washington state is cherry country, and this year’s crop of Bings is bodacious, as CAA member Brook Hurst Stephens described them. Our first cherry dispatch comes from CAA social media maven Shannon Kelly.
Past and present, I’ve got cherries on the brain, in the oven and on the stove.
From the cupboard
Last month, I found two half-pint wide mouth jars of preserved cherries dated July 2010 tucked away in the depths of my pantry and immediately thought of all of my Canvolutionary friends and our ever evolving mission to “use up what we put up”. For me, canned goodness is only as good as the moment you pop that top and dig into the delicious out-of-season pickle or preserve. It is a delightful precursor to summer in a rain-soaked spring.
Over the past 11 months, I had used my cherries packed in syrup for desserts and as a sauce over ice cream. It was time to do something different. The remaining two cans were transformed in less than an hour from sweet to savory.
Here’s how I did it: In a pot, combine two half-pint cans of cherries in sugar syrup with two garlic cloves (halved with the green part removed), one bay leaf, about a teaspoon of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Reduces slowly on extra low while stirring to avoid burning. Once the mixture is reduced by half, add up to ½ cup of chicken stock (you can substitute vegetable stock too). Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Salt to taste. Serve with your favorite grilled meat (we did chicken on the Green Egg).
From the farm
Just as I’d cleaned out my pantry, the Washington State Fruit Commission gifted Canning Across America with another round of cherries and I was back at the canning kettle. In honor of Cherry-palooza 2011, I transformed my three bags into Brandied Cherries while placing the remaining pound of the fruit in the oven on low heat (140 degrees for 3-4 hours or until dry).
I’ll use the dried cherries in salads or as an accompaniment on a cheese plate until I can’t resist the urge to dip back into my cupboard. That’s the problem with putting up canned foods — it’s hard to wait to share the bounty (but so worth it to enjoy a taste of summer in February).
CAA Contributor Shannon Kelly is a trend illustrator, cultural anthropologist, brand strategist, gastronomic devotee and social media enthusiast. She founded In Your Head consultancy to transform her knowledge of marketing, innovation and merchandising into strategies for retail, food & lifestyle industries. Her love of pickling and new media has earned her the title of marketing/tech guru for Canning Across America. Shannon tweets about the intersection of food, fashion and culture @trendscaping and always cans wearing stylish shoes.