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Bing Cherries

The Bling of Bing Cherries

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 describes them, below.

Brook's Bing "bling" atop vanilla ice cream. Photo: Brook Hurst Stephens.

At our most recent Canning Across America meeting, we were greeted by the news that Northwest Cherries had dropped off some Bing cherries for us to can. As preservers, we enjoy spending time in the kitchen and most of us like to try out new recipes too. I think I can speak for everyone at the meeting when I say we were all grateful for a few pounds of fresh-picked fruit to experiment with. One small detail: I’m pretty darn sure I was the only person in the room who happens to be the daughter of a cherry orchardist. My dad grows Rainiers, Chelans, and Bings in the Wenatchee Valley.  Sad but true, due to Dad’s busy schedule and mine — plus being separated by 150 miles — I haven’t seen even a single cherry from his crop this year.

I grew up picking cherries, sorting cherries, having tee shirt-staining cherry wars in the orchards with my brothers and of course, eating plenty of fresh-picked cherries. None of my previous cherry experience really prepared me for what I was about to behold. First let me tell you that I’d heard rumors that this has been a stellar year for cherries. If the big bodacious Bings we were given at the CAA meeting are any indication of this year’s crop, the rumors are 100 percent. true.

Over the past 25 years I’ve made lots of recipes with fresh cherries: jam, chutney, jelly, brandied and even pickled cherries. These Bing cherries were speaking to me from the moment we met. They were saying “Don’t mess with us….we’re perfect just the way we are.” So I took them home and did my best to keep them in their purest form while still preserving them.

What I came up with is my version of a Classic Cherry Compote. This recipe is simple and quick. The cherries are first stemmed, then washed and packed into jars with the pits still intact. Next fill the jars with a hot syrup made from sugar and water, top with sealing lids & ring bands and process.

These Bing cherries preserved in delectable ruby-red syrup are as satisfying to eat as they are spectacular to look at.  I now have several jars of Bling — I mean ”Bing” Cherry Compote in my pantry, and I have a feeling they’ll be dazzling my table on more than a few drab winter days. My only concern? I just hope I made enough to last until cherry season 2012.

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Cherries Three Ways

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.

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Recipe Spotlight: Pickles from Lisa DuPar

Looking for recipes for different kinds of pickles?  Look no further.  Lisa DuPar, of Lisa Dupar Catering and Pomegranate Bistro has shared two of her favorites with us.  Check them out!

Pickled Summer Bing Cherries

Pickled Red Onions

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