Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cherry Preserves - the fix

Regular readers of this blog may remember that I recently made some cherry preserves that didn't set up.   As it turns out, the pectin stock I canned last year didn't have a lot of pectin in it - I did a simple test where I added some to rubbing alcohol, and I barely got any solid at all.  So I fixed my batch of cherry preserves by adding a pectin mixture I made by cooking down green apples and lemons.   I didn't chop up the lemons finely, which turned out to be a huge mistake!  Instead of a food mill, I like to use my Kitchen Aid fruit and vegetable strainer attachment, which normally makes quick work out of taking a batch of cut up apples (peels, cores and all) into velvety smooth sauce.   However, the lemon rind kept binding up the auger and I was forced to dig out my despised food mill to finish the job!  Next time I have to remember to chop the lemon into tinier pieces.  

The cherry preserves finally turned out fantastic - but I sure paid the price with elbow grease on this batch.  Normally, I gauge my canning projects on whether I could make them cheaper at home.   I checked out my benchmark - American Spoon's Sour Cherry Preserves and noticed that they charge $7.95 for a 9.5 oz jar for their lovely concoction of  Montmorency cherries - as they call it, "the fruit Michigan is famous for".   That is so true!  Michigan grows 75% of the nation's sour cherry crop, so I think it is my moral imperative to can some every year.   So how did I do?

4 quarts sour cherries - $14
10 small sour apples - $2
2 lemons - $.50
5 cups sugar - $1

Total = $17.50 for 5 half pints...which is about 44 cents and oz. or $4.15 for an American Spoon sized jar.  Even with all my wasted effort, it's well worth it.   

Here's how to do it right the first time:

2 1/2 lb pitted sour cherries
5 c. sugar

10 small sour apples
2 lemons

Pit cherries, and add sugar.  Allow mixture to sit for 8 - 10 hours (overnight).  Meanwhile, cut up apples (peels and cores) and finely chop lemons (include rind and seeds) and cook until soft.  Add enough water to keep it from sticking at the start.   Put the apple lemon mixture through a food mill - approximately 2 cups puree is needed.

Add puree to cherry mixture and cook in a preserving pot (I like to use my 7.5 quart enameled Dutch oven), stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches the gel temp for your altitude (8 F higher than the boiling point of water) for my address in Ann Arbor, Michigan - that's 912. feet above sea level - so it's 212 F.   (here's a cool tool to find the elevation of where you are).  Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.  Makes about 5 pints.


noƫlle said...

Glad to read this before attempting cherries this year! My next door neighbors have two sour apple trees that I'm going to raid for pectin. I made a very small batch of sour cherry jam last year and didn't need any additional pectin, but it did turn out with a very slight caramelized flavor to it that I'd like to avoid.

I'm also going to make dill pickles for the first time, and plan on referencing your "McClure's" recipe.

Donna Elick said...

I am not a huge cherry fan, I like cherries, don't get me wrong. But your preserves look delightful.

Libby said...

This looks delightful! My husband's parents live in Michigan so perhaps I will have to visit during cherry season sometime and take over their kitchen. :)

Did this recipe make 5 pints or 5 half-pints? If it made 5 pints, that's 80 ounces and the price per ounce is half of what you calculated. It means you could have made an American Spoon sized jar for around $2.10 - I'd say definitely worth it!

Cynthia said...

It was 5 half pints....I had a typo. I just fixed it - thanks!

stephq said...

Good to know about pitting cherries; I might try that for plums next year. Pitting cherry plums is not my favourite job

Vivienne said...

I'm sure this is really good but isn't it partly an apple-lemon preserve? That's quite a lot of a different fruit.

I'm taking a breather on cherry jam after overcooking last year's (used commercial pectin). Hint: don't let your husband hang over your shoulder while making preserves. Mine turned out to be almost candy. I need to think about a repurposing strategy.

Cynthia said...

My husband stays out of the kitchen when I am canning! V, if you want to call them cherry/lemon/appe preserves, you can. But they only taste of cherry. Try it for next year - I think your man will like it.

Tricia said...

I recently read a cherry pie article (maybe from the Cooks Illustrated folks?) that suggested putting shredded sour apple in with the fruit, to help it set up and not make the crust all soggy. Having read some of your canning posts over the past few years, i wondered if it was a pectin kind of situation that make it work!