Country Living Series

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cherry purée

After netting our little cherry bushes a couple weeks ago...



...it was time to draw back the veil...


...and pick some cherries.


This is the first year we've had cherries from these bushes. The fruit was beautiful, but I was disappointed by the taste. These are sour cherries but with a high sugar content, and I was expecting, I dunno, sweet cherries, I guess.

Nevertheless I picked the first crop and re-veiled the bushes until the rest should ripen. I got a solid bowl-full.


Next I had to figure out how to stone them. I don't have a cherry stoner (though I'll probably get one in the future), and a quick internet search revealed a chopstick would work in a pinch. And so it did, though it was laborious.


Not great, but adequate for my immediate needs.


However it was messy messy messy. Protecting clothes (apron) is vital.


Tossing the pits into a large bowl splattered cherry juice everywhere, and poking the pits out of the cherries splattered more juice. Trust me: apron, old shirt, anything.


Next step, the food strainer. I first used this tool last year when straining tomatoes, and it worked beautifully. The instructions specifically state it's necessary to remove the stones before puréeing cherries, hence the chopstick option.


I didn't have many cherries, so this step didn't take long. It did splatter some more, though. I tell ya, don't have anything nearby you don't want stained when processing cherries.


I ended up with a bit over a pint of purrée, so I put it in the fridge until the rest of the cherries were ripe. A few days later I picked the remaining fruit, unnetted the now-bare cherry bushes, and puréed the final (tiny) crop.

Final haul for our first year of harvesting cherries: two pints:


These I labeled and put in the freezer until I have enough fruits to combine into a canning session.


I started out being disappointed by the sourness of the cherries, but after puréeing them I've changed my mind. Sure, they're not the best for fresh eating, but the purée is absolutely phenomenal and the smell is divine. Sweetened just a bit, the purée can used for sauce (ice cream, anyone?) or juice, and it's loaded with nutrients. So, no complaints.

That said, we did some research and found a sweet cherry bush we'll order next year, and give that a try. Variety is the spice of life, or so they say.

By the way, this was a day's haul last week: last of the raspberries, half of the cherries, and the blueberry bushes are just starting to peak.

20 comments:

  1. A paperclip will take the pit out. Push it in the stem side and pull the pit out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How would it work to do it in a funnel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not certain what you mean by using a funnel. If you mean as a food strainer, the funnel wouldn't remove the skins.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  3. I have a cherry pitter now, but I've used a large soda straw (like the ones McD's uses). A little less messy than a chopstick. Cherries look beautiful!

    Mary Ellen

    ReplyDelete
  4. When we first bought the farm there were three pie cherry trees, full size ones, and most years I canned between 20 and 40 quarts of them for pies. Borrowed a pitter once, but to get all the pits it really ground up the fruit! No chopsticks in our area, so we just used the squeeze method ( and boy do cherries spit!) Everything in the kitchen was sticky with juice, even when I worked in the sink! But hubby and three sons all loved cherry pie (I don't like it at all) so it was worth the effort. Love reading your articles, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  5. SOUR CHERRY PIE IS FANTASTIC AND A GREAT PA. DUTCH TREAT!!! ADD TO RECIPE ON MINUTE TAPEOKA
    RECIPE AND ENJOY.
    FRED ,LITITZ,PA

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sour cherry jam is the best! Looking at those cherries make my mouth water. I haven't been able to fine the sour ones for a few years so I guess I'll have to plant some. I like the idea of a bush. Thank you for all the great posts.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I second those comments.... Sour cherry crumb pie is my all time fav pie! (Fred from Lititz.... I'm writing this from Manheim) However.... Sour cherry jam rocks!!! Would be hard to choose which is better. Made some sour cherry wine last year. Was just ok. Kicked myself for not making jam out of them. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sour cherries are my favorite fruit. I freeze them which seems to add to the flavor.
    I used a cherry pitter this year. Lots easier that's for sure but you'll leave one in a hundred pits in so chew softly. I don't net my trees as there's a mature female Mulberry tree that ripens at the same time right nearby and the birds, raccoons and squirrels hit that instead. North Star trees are very prolific but Montmorency has a better cherry. there's a Bali cherry that I don't have that is supposedly sweater and just as hardy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think you said these bushes are the Carmine Jewel variety? If so, you need to wait a few days to a week longer to pick them...until they are very dark burgundy. I read an article at the University of Minnesota (who developed the variety) that had pictures of the many varieties they are working on, at various stages of ripeness...and what the sugar content was at each stage. Carmine Jewel was the darkest of all varieties at ripeness, a very dark burgundy colour.
    I found this out myself...our Carmine Jewel gave us the first two cherries last year. This year I picked a few when they got a bright red...not very good at all. So every couple days I picked a few more, until they got very, very dark - OMG, when they are dark they are simply awesome!!! Richly full-flavoured, just barely less sweet than a sweet cherry, but with a bright tart edge to make them yummy. A half teaspoon of brown sugar was plenty to sweeten up two cups of cherrys.
    My granny showed me the best way to pit cherries without making a huge mess. Place a plastic tablecloth over your work surface. Put your bowl of cherries to the left, a bowl for the pitted cherries right in front of you and a bowl for the pits to the right. Works best if the rims of the bowls touch, so you don't lose much juice. Hold the cherry in your left hand fingers, over the bowl in the middle for the pitted cherries. Place your right hand thumbnail where the cherry was attached to the tree, push in and gently peel off that half of the cherry. Then use your right thumbnail (or index fingernail) to remove the exposed pit over the bowl to right for the pits. If the cherries are perfectly ripe, the pits will come right out without much flesh on them. Otherwise, just use your fingers to sort of clean off the pulp. When you are done, take the bowl with the pits, hold the pits back with your hand and pour any juice amongst the pits in with the pitted cherries - too good to waste.
    Makes a mess of your hands - have an old slightly dampened dish towel at hand...but not much of a mess elsewhere. But it is fast and efficient, far more so than any other way I have tried. And while I have a Squeezo Strainer, for cherry puree I just use the blender...far less mess!
    Got two bulging quart bags of pitted cherries - was quite impressed with the yield for a first bearing!
    PlantLady

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL -- now I'll reverse all that advice to apply to left-handers.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  10. Be careful when buying cherry bushes. If I remember correctly, sour varieties are self pollinating and sweet varieties are not, so you need 2 kinds, usually one sweet and one sour. See if the ones you just harvested will cross with the ones you are planning to buy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. LOL...I had to stop and think hard while writing...right or left...as I am pretty much ambidextrous. And then it depends on which fingernails I currently have long enough to be useful (hehe). When out driving a flatbed semi with hubby, don't know how many times I heard "Your other right, turn to your other right!"

    ReplyDelete
  12. Way we were taught to pit cherries was with a paperclip.Open it up and use the rounded ends to go in at the stem end and scoop the pit out, back thru the hole.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Patrice,
    I am kind of lazy when it comes to pitting cherries or our little wild plums that are about the same size. I take off the stems and boil them down is a large stock pot crushing them as I go. Then when cooked I put them into a regular collander and smush the cherry pulp and juice through it with a large spoon. The pits stay in the collander with the larger pieces of skin, and the pulp and juice are seperated to make pie cherry jam. A steam juicer is also nice and you get bright red juice for making jelly and then the pulp. I turn the pulp of the plums into sweet and sour sauce that is fantastic!
    Judy

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cherry pitter I bought this year - http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/cherry-pitter/1042604563?Keyword=cherry+pitter

    Worth every dime!

    Also thought about the Push Button Cherry pitter which just fits over a mason jar. But shipping was going to be as much as the pitter.

    ReplyDelete
  15. One more VERY useful bit of info I found on the University of Minnesota site is that Carmine Jewel cherries are grown on their own roots - not grafted like all others. You can take cuttings and root them to make more trees for yourself.
    PlantLady

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yep, previous posters are spot on. If this is a Carmine Jewel, they need to be VERY dark before picking. Deep Deep Burgundy. they will still have a sour end note, but they are tasty. I just finished processing this years harvest from 1 bush. a little over 5 pounds, 2 pie fillings worth and the balance I am drying.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Tart cherries mixed in a white flat cake is a delight for the taste buds

    ReplyDelete
  18. I while back I passed by a webpage that discussed using the cherry pits to flavor cream before whipping and I'd bet you could flavor sugar with them as well.

    Might as well get all you can from the crop.

    ReplyDelete