Oh my goodness, is it the summer solstice already??? That means my sour cherry tree is just about ready. I picked 3 quarts today and more are on the way. It’s a race between me and the birds so I have to be on my guard. Here are a whole pack of ways you can enjoy cherry season. And don’t forget to freeze some – you can always make these recipes later in the winter when you have more time.
By Tammy Kimbler
8 c pitted sour cherries
1 c kirsch cherry brandy
4 c sugar
1 c water
1/4 c lemon juice
Masserate cherries, kirsch and 1 cup of sugar overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, sterilize 9 half pint jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Set aside on a rack, along with their lids. Do not sterilize the lids, just wash them in hot soapy water and rinse. New BPA-free lids should not be pre-boiled. Keep the water on low while you make the jam.
In a heavy, non-reactive pot, put the cherry mixture, water, lemon juice and remaining 3 cups of sugar. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. On medium to medium high heat, stirring regularly, boil the cherry mixture down. Have handy a small plate. When the mixture starts looking syrupy, test it’s jelling properties by putting a teaspoon of jam on the plate then setting it in the freezer for a minute. Pull the plate out and run your finger through the center of the jam. If your finger leaves a permanent path, then the jam is ready to jar. If the liquid fills in the path, boil it down some more. It’s a very forgiving process, so go with it!
Once the jam sets, pour into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims with a towel dipped in hot water, then top with the canning lids. Lower the jars into your simmering water, making sure there’s at least an inch of water above the jars. Bring the water to a boil, and process the jam for 5 minutes. Remove to a clean dry towel or a rack. Cool completely. Check that the lids are depressed, and store in a cool dark place. If any lids did not seal, store those jars in the refrigerator.
Stores for up to a year. Makes 8-9 half pints.
By Tammy Kimbler
Pits from 2lbs sour cherries
Clean glass bottle or jar
Fill your bottle with sour cherry pits, pouring in any extra juice from the pitting process. Top with vodka. My bottle held about 12 oz of pits and vodka combined. Refrigerate for at least one week, but I’m guessing longer might be better. Throw a shot of this in a tall glass with ice, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of champaign. *Sigh*
By Tammy Kimbler
16 lbs tart apples
10 lbs sour pie cherries
3 lbs honey (1 quart)
7 cups sugar
2 tbs citric acid
2 tbs yeast nutrient or 1 cup raisins
2 gallons boiling water, plus more cold water for topping off
2 pkgs Lavin 47 wine yeast or other wine yeast
6 gallon fermenting bucket with lid & airlock
6 gallon filter bag (or sanitized large pillow case)
extra long spoon
bottling bucket with hose and bottle spigot
new or used beer bottles
new beer caps
Clean all of your equipment, buckets, bottles, countertops, knives, spoons, food processor, blender, filter bag, etc (anything that will come into contact with the wine during the process) with dish soap and hot water, and rinse well. Then rinse everything, including surfaces, with either StarSan sanitizing solution (per package directions) or a very week solution of 1 tbs bleach to 1 gallon of water. Leave wet for StarSan or air dry ahead of time with bleach solution. Make sure your hands are clean, too!
Line your fermenting bucket with the filter bag and secure the top so it doesn’t slip. Wash and core your apples, cutting out any bad spots. Leave the skins on. Pit the cherries. (Save the pits for cherry pit vodka!) In a food processor with the grater attachment, grate all the apples. Place into your filter bag. Next, with the processor blade, blend all your cherries. Add to the filter bag.
To the bag add the honey, sugar, acid, yeast nutrient or raisins, and boiling water. Stir with your long spoon. Add additional cold water to bring the level up to 5-5.5 gallons. Be sure to leave at least 4 inches of headspace in your fermenting bucket or it may “blowout” when the fermentation kicks in. It needs some room to bubble. Stir the mixture well to incorporate air and blend in the sugars.
Check the temperature. When it reaches 80 degrees or less, add 1 package of yeast. Stir again. Tie your filter bag off with butcher’s twine (sanitized), then add the lid, along with an airlock filled with vodka or Star San solution. Place the bucket in a location that’s around 68-72 degrees, which in my case, was my kitchen. Fermentation should start within 24 hours. You’ll know because your airlock will start bubbling up gasses that smell very pleasant. Fermentation at proper temp should take about 1-2 weeks.
If you’ve read my post on Yellow Tomato Wine, you’ll note that I have not added Campden tablets to this mix to neutralize wild critters. This is because I’m gambling a little with the wild yeasts that live on the apples and cherries themselves. I recently tasted some wild fermented beer from Minnesota, made by the brewer at Barley Johns, and it was funky-sour-awesome goodness. So this may be a little bit of “Minnesota Nice” worked into the mix. You still want everything else to be clean, though. No sense in adding nasty kitchen bacteria to the mix.
After the primary fermentation has slowed to a crawl, about 1 bubble per minute in the airlock, you can “rack” your wine. Racking means that you remove the solids in the filter bag and syphon off the main liquid from the sludge at the bottom, into a secondary fermenter, or in this case, a clean, sanitized 5 gallon glass carboy bottle. Seal this with a rubber bung and a fresh airlock filled with vodka or StarSan. Let the cider sit at least one month, then taste it to see if you like it. If it’s good, move on to bottling. If not, let it sit another month. There are often harsh flavors and ethers that soften with time. You may need to rack this again if more sediment accumulates. If you like the cider as is, you have still wine. Or you can bottle and carbonate it to make sparkling cider.
Now it’s time to bottle and get natural carbonation going! You will need washed and sanitized beer bottles (not the screw top kind) and new bottle caps and a bottle capper. Or you can use bail and rubber seal bottles, like the kind Grolsch beer comes in. Rack your cider into a sanitized bottling bucket. Add 2/3c honey mixed with a little warm water to the cider and stir with a clean spoon. Next sprinkle in the second package of yeast if your cider is over a month old. Your cider has been sitting around so you don’t want to run the risk that your old yeast is dead. Stir well. Fill your beer bottles to within an inch of the top, then cap. Let the bottles ferment in a moderate temp location for 2-3 weeks. Test a bottle to see if it’s carbonated. When ready, refrigerate all the bottles, or make sure they are in a very cool part of your basement. Bottles have been known to explode if they over carbonate. Refrigeration will prevent that. When you’re ready to drink your cider, pour it into a glass, leaving any sediment behind in the bottle. All my supplies came from Northern Brewer, which also has great online resources and books. And enjoy!
By Tammy Kimbler
4 dried poblano chiles or 6 dried pasillo chiles
1/2 c dried sweet cherries
1 c chicken stock
1 small tomato
1 tbs canola or olive oil
4 fresh poblano chiles, medium sized
4 boneless chicken thighs
2 slices bacon
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
canola or olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup Corn Chex cereal or crushed corn tortilla chips
1/2 c almonds, chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tbs canola oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bring the chicken stock to a boil and pour over the dried poblanos and cherries. Let steep for 15 minutes. Finely dice half an onion and sauté in a little oil until they just turn brown. Chop one small tomato. When the chiles and cherries are soft, remove the chile stems and seeds. Add the chiles, cherries, stock, onion and tomato to a blender and blend until very smooth. Season to taste with salt. In a sauce pan, heat a tablespoon of oil till almost smoking, then add the mole sauce (careful, it sputters). Sauté briefly in the oil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Roast the fresh poblanos over a gas flame or under a broiler until the skin is charred all over. Place in a bowl and cover with a towel to steam. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin. Gently slit open one side of each chile and remove the seeds, being careful to keep the stem and chile intact for stuffing. Set aside.
Finely dice the bacon and onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the chicken into small cubes. Sauté the bacon and onion until soft. Add the chicken and cook through. Add the garlic at the end, along with the cumin. Salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat. Reserve a 1/4 cup of goat cheese for the topping, blending in the remaining cheese until creamy.
In a sauté pan, heat the canola oil until hot. Add the cereal or tortilla chips and almonds and sauté until fragrant. Turn down the heat to low and add the smoked paprika and salt, tossing quickly to combine. The paprika may smoke a bit. Remove from heat and empty into a heat proof bowl.
To assemble the dish, pour the mole sauce into a casserole dish big enough to hold the four poblanos. Carefully stuff each poblano with 1/4 of the chicken filling, then lay them on top of the mole. Top each chile with the cereal topping, then with a sprinkling of goat cheese. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees until the mole is bubbly and the goat cheese is light brown on top.
To serve, lift out the stuffed pepper onto a plate, spoon mole around the pepper. Sprinkle with any extra cereal mix and a bit of cilantro.
By By Tammy Kimbler
2 lbs sour cherries, pitted (about 1 quart)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp Pomona Pectin
2 tsp Pomona Calcium Water
1/4 tsp almond extract
Wash and sterilize 5, 1/2 pint jars. Keep jars in hot water along with their lids. Combine pectin power with sugar. In a pot add the calcium water and sour cherries. Bring the water and cherries to a boil, then add the sugar/pectin mixture. Over medium heat stir the mixture quickly to dissolve the sugar and pectin. Return the jam to a boil and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars from the hot water. Fill the jars with hot jam, leaving 1/2” head room. Wipe the rims with a paper towel dipped in hot water to remove any jam drips. Seal the jars with the hot lids. Return the jars to the hot water and bring to a boil. Process the jam for 10 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool. Enjoy the lid-popping background music. Makes 4-5 1/2 pints.