On Monday, my sister and I drove out to Hicks Orchard just across the border in NY state to pick tart Montmorency cherries. The cherry trees were grafted on semi-dwarf rootstock, but my sister and I are of semi-dwarf stock ourselves. There was wonderful fruit out of reach at the top of the trees, and a fair amount of good fruit within reach. We worked hard for an hour, stretching and reaching to pick ten and a half pounds of cherries. What surprised us was how many picked right off the stem. We drove from Hicks Orchard to Cherry Hill Farm to pick red currants. It only took us ten minutes to fill a couple of quarts.
Here are the fruits of our picking: red currants and Montmorency tart cherries.
The first thing I made with them was a cherry-currant jam. I got the recipe from Seasonal Ontario Food and I liked it because it uses the natural pectin in the currants rather than adding additional powdered pectin. The cooking down to the jelling point took longer for me, about 45 minutes, but it always seems to be slow on my stove. We ended up with (6) 1/2pint jars of cherry-currant jam.
While the jam was cooking down, I experimented with picked cherries from the NY Times. I have no idea how these will taste, but they sure look beautiful. It was quick and easy to make them, hopefully it will be worth it.
The final cherry preparation for the day was a fresh cherry pie. We used the recipe from the Joy of cooking, which only adds sugar, cornstarch, and a dash of almond flavoring. It is already half gone.
Today I had to decide what to do with the remaining cherries and currants. I decided that I have lots of jam already and that a cherry pie in the middle of winter would be a wonderful thing. So the remaining cherries were canned in a 30% sugar syrup. They measured 8 cups before they went in the pan, but when I ladled in to the jars, I only ended up with one quart jar and one 1/2 pint jar. So we will have one cherry pie sometime this winter, and some cherries on ice cream another time. The cherries look beautiful in the jar, though they all push towards the top.The remaining currants made one 1/2 pint jar of jelly which is very good. It is good enough that I'll probably be picking more currants soon to make more for Christmas gifts.