I’m getting more into the canning thing. I’ve done a few small things in the past, but never a whole lot. There are some drawbacks – yes, it can be somewhat time-consuming. Yes, it can be hot when you’re spending hours over a stove on a 90-degree day. Yes, it can be messy (as I continue to find purple splatters across the kitchen). But, if you can stick it out and find the time, energy, and motivation (and pray the little one either stays asleep or stays content in his kennel-on-wheels), it is oh-so-rewarding. At this point, all the experts are probably nodding their heads knowingly… or rolling their eyes. But, if you’re interested, here’s what I made.
6-7 cups of sweet cherries, pitted
– cherries always go on sale during the summer, so you can pick up a bunch; 6-7 cups is about what’s in a standard bag in a store
– we have an OXO cherry pitter; it’s not glamorous, but you can knock out one every few seconds once you get into a groove
1-2 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Put the pitted cherries into a medium saucepan, and crush lightly (potato masher works well) to release some juice. Bring to a boil for a few minutes then reduce heat. Next, you can either pour the mixture into a blender to puree, or keep them in the pan and use an immersion blender (a very handy tool). At this point, the cherries are just going to simmer until reduced by at least half, depending on your desired thickness. It probably took me an hour, and you’ll want to check on it pretty regularly, so now is not the time to go out and cut the grass. Alternatively, you could put it in an uncovered slow cooker on low, which will take longer, but requires less attention, so you could go play outside. Once it’s thick enough, add the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, and mix well. Sample. Sample again if you need to. If you’re doing the real canning, ladle it into jars (we used 8 oz) leaving 1/4″ headspace, cap, and process for 15 minutes in boiling water. If not, put into jars and keep refrigerated. This one was super yummy – the cherry flavor gets very concentrated, and you really don’t need much sugar at all because the cherries are so sweet on their own.
Blackberry Jam (recipe from the Blue Book of Canning; I cut it by 1/3)
9 cups berries
6 cups sugar
Like the cherry butter, put the berries into a saucepan, but mash them up pretty well. Add the sugar, then bring to a boil. You’re supposed to boil until it reaches the gelling point, which I won’t get technical with, but is 8 degrees past the boiling point of water, or 220 F at sea level. I was stuck on 219 F for a while and I got tired of waiting, so I took it off – it still seemed pretty jammy to me. Once it reaches that point, immediately remove from the heat. Ladle into jars with 1/4″ headspace, and boil for 15 minutes. Ruby-red paradise in a jar.