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Cherries

Cherry Pickles, Indian Style

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.  Today’s dispatch comes from the kitchen of CAA comrade Venkat Balasubramani. 

Venkat's pickled cherries.

Even though I grew up in southern California, my mom brought many kitchen traditions from India, including refrigerator-style pickles. One of the most common type of pickles from South India is made with green, unripe mangos. My mom always made a version of this with a bunch of other (locally available) fruits, such as cranberries and strawberries.  The recipe is amazingly simple and I’ve been doing the same here in Seattle with a variety of fruit (cranberries, tayberries, strawberries and mango, a perennial favorite).   I was at the West Seattle Farmer’s Market the other day and saw some cherries and decided to give them a try.

Here’s the basic recipe:
Ingredients
¼ pound cherries, pitted
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons plain chilli powder (Do not use a blend or ground cayenne, as it will be too hot; in in doubt, use chilli powder from an Indian grocery store. They make this available among other things for pickling)
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon asafeotida powder (available in Indian or Asian markets)

Method
Liberally sprinkle the cherries with salt and chilli powder. Let it sit for a day or two in a covered bowl in the refrigerator so the flavor soaks in. Heat up olive oil in a pan. Once the oil gets hot, throw in the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start popping, give it about 30 seconds and throw in the asafeotida.

Remove the mixture from the stove, and mix in the cherries, while the oil is still hot. Store in a cover container in the refrigerator.

Notes: I always advise going easy on the asafeotida, but the chilli powder and salt is definitely “to taste.” The salt and oil act as natural preservatives, but I recommend consuming it within a month or two. This should be no problem, because the pickles are out of this world.

Venkat Balasubramani is a Seattle-based lawyer who happens to have an avid interest in pickles and spices. You can connect with him on Twitter: @spicegeek

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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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My Canvolution: an iPhone photo journal

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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. Shannon blogs about the intersection of food and fashion at Trendscaping and always cans wearing stylish shoes.

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What Should I Make With Cherries or Apricots?

Canning CherriesCanning Apricots
My fellow canners, I recently came into a bounty of several pounds of cherries and apricots. For one of my first ideas, I’m hoping to try my hand at homemade maraschino cherries. I’m also tempted by the Apricot Red Current Jam in my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Even then, I’ll have several pounds of each fruit left. Suggestions? Ideas?

CAA Contributor Rachel Strawn Thibodeaux loves all things culinary. She’s new to canning, but has an extensive history of searching for the next delicious meal. She writes at Rachel: Photo Diary and regularly posts on Flickr.

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CAA Photo of the Week from Our Flickr Pool: Mama Urchin & Blueberry Butter

Blueberry Butter
Blueberry Butter by Mama Urchin

This week’s CAA Photo of the Week is from Mama Urchin. In my part of the country — as in many others — blueberries are hitting their stride. I’d love to make & put up some blueberry butter! Cherries are also a hot topic these days and she shares another lovely picture of cherry jelly. In addition to her Flickr feed, Mama Urchin also keeps a blog of her kitchen pursuits, her photography, gardening, fiber crafts and other projects.

Thanks for the inspiration & for sharing your pictures, Mama Urchin!

Don’t forget, if you’d like to participate, please join our community’s Flickr pool and submit your photos!

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