So, I heard through the grapevine that the Berkeley Bowl, a produce market up in Berkeley, had fresh sour cherries. So I drove 40+ miles to Berkeley this morning, timing my arrival to get there exactly when they opened. And sure enough, they had them! beautiful little cherries in 2-lb boxes. The Holy Grail lay lusciously before me, red, tart, and delicious.
So what could I do? I bought an entire case of them. 🙂
Lest that sound super-crazy, I hastily add that a case of sour cherries is “only” 16 lbs, while a case of, say, peaches can easily top 35 lbs. And since I had been planning to buy 10-12 lbs anyway, and there was a substantial discount for a full case, I basically wound up getting 4 lbs free. Or something like that.
Anyway, this seemed reasonable at the time. I had forgotten, however, that cherries are Not Like peaches, plums, or strawberries, all of which are pretty tractable in large quantity. Cherries, you see, have lots of tiny little pits. Every one of which needs to be removed by hand. And sour cherries are only about half the size of sweet cherries – twice as many pits for your money!
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I spent most of today slaving away over a pile of cherries, cherry pitter in one hand, cherries-to-be-pitted in the other. Clack, clack, clack, toss pitted cherries into 3-gallon stockpot, toss pits into a stoneware bowl for later disposal. As I finished each two-pound container, I would sprinkle another cup of sugar over the pitted cherries in the stockpot, to draw out the juices.
At any rate, I have now pitted 12 lbs (!) of cherries, which have been mixed with sugar and will spend the next few hours “aging” before I start turning them into sun-cooked cherry jam. Once enough juices are drawn out that I can heat the cherries in their own juice, I will bring the mixture to a boil, then spread them out into a shallow pan in the sun and cover them with mosquito netting, letting the sun evaporate some of the moisture. At night I’ll bring the pan indoors, then set it out the next morning. About 2 days of this treatment is typically enough to make a lovely strawberry jam – we’ll just have to see if it works as well with sour cherries!
That leaves four pounds. Two pounds are going to go into a cherry pie which I will make tonight, and I haven’t quite decided what to do with the remaining two pounds. I’m leaning towards turning them into candied sour cherries, but not sure yet. I’m also not sure about the timeframe to make candied sour cherries – I leave for Laura’s place on Thursday, which doesn’t leave much time for the candying process. Sour cherries are quite small, though, so easily candied…I will have to think about it some more.
Enough with food! Off to weave some more!