Let this post be proof: Everyone has time to preserve food.
Case in point: The eleven quarts of canned cherries that are smiling at me from my storage closet.
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes. 40 of which was spent in the canner. Not bad, huh?
This is the first time I have ever canned cherries, and frankly, I wasn't really planning on it! When my Aunt (who lives two doors down) called me to see if I wanted any cherries, I said “Aunt Vicki – ahem. Are you crazy!? Have you ever, EVER known me to turn free food away?!” She laughed. Because she hadn't.
So over she skipped with a box full of freshly picked cherries from a friend's tree. Oh, blessed me!
Now, cherries take me back. Way, way back. Okay, not that far – about 7,8,9ish years. When I see cherries, I think of having to get up early. I think of having to be in the orchards at 6:00. I think of lifting lots and lots of heavy lugs. I think of having to yell at the pickers “No more leaves!”. I think of the wonderful Taco Wagon that would come into the orchards for a mid-morning snack (Tacos at 9:00? Count me in.) I think of getting run over by a trailer full of cherry bins. I think of birds. And branches. And the danged ‘ol hot sun. I think of sleeping on a tractor and then having to jump off of it as it began to slide down a slick hill. I think of snakes. Earwigs. Beautiful sunrises. And summertime. If any of my readers have ever worked a fruit harvest, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talkin' about. Cherries are a big crop around here, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a teenager who didn't have a wonderful, humbling opportunity to work in the orchard. I think every child should – it's good for their spirit!
Anyway. Back to the point of my post. After some washing and de-stemming, all we had to do was shove the cherries in some sterilized jars. While some choose to pit the cherries prior to canning, my Aunt assured me that it's much easier to squish the pit out once they've been processed. Plus, they aren't something you sit and eat a giant bowl of. Just a little bit here and there as a sweet treat in the frigid lull of winter. After the cherries were in their jars, respectively, we topped them off with a light syrup (2 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar). Then, into the waterbath they went for 20 minutes of processing.
Succulent, crimson cherries. They are probably the most prettiest thing I've ever canned.
And it all happened so fast, by the time my Aunt left, my head was spinnin'! All I had left to do was wash up a few dishes, pat myself on the back, and sit quietly with a glass of wine while I waited to hear the expected “pop” of a sealing Mason jar.
Not a bad way to spend Georgia's naptime, I'd say. Not bad at all.
I hope this encourages you – food preservation surely doesn't have to be daunting or overly time consuming. Yes, it takes work. Yes, it takes time. But once you see those sweet jars lining your closet, you won't be able to help yourself…
…That is, if you have a severe food-geek-tendency, like your's truly here.
But tonight – tonight my friends, the real fun begins. Dehydrating cherries. Now THAT'S a labor of love. Good thing I have Stuart to help me…usually, if I pay him in bacon and/or beer, he's more than obliged to help me.
I love that man.