I am an addict. A junkie. I am totally hooked on summer food preservation – jams, spreads, sauces, pickles, blanch & freeze – I do it all. And I do a lot of it. Often I crawl into bed past midnight and collapse smelling of pickling brine.
I am pretty much dog tired from May-October. I miss all kinds of fun stuff with my friends and I felt totally lame at first but now they’re all used to the, “Wow! That sounds fun but I can’t because I’ve have to do _____ quarts of ______ tonight.”
So why do I run myself ragged? I know that when there is snow on the ground and there isn’t a speck of green in sight we’ll enjoy pickles on our burgers and pasta sauce from our own tomatoes and the best PB&Js in all the land.
So exhausted or not – I soldier on.
This weekend I finally finished up those blasted cherries!
I strained the last 6lbs of tart cherries and saved the juice – I’ll do some jellies later.
Then I took the cherries and cooked them for a bit with some balsamic vinegar, sugar, and some vanilla extract. Oh my goodness. These tasted divine! I am going to do a jam with these flavors later in the summer from some of the cherries I froze.
Once the sugar was dissolved I transferred them to the only heat safe container I had that was large enough – my crock pot. Ha! These went into the fridge over night.
The next morning I drained all the juice and got it on the stove. I cooked it until it thickened up a bit and was syrupy.
I canned three 8oz jars and we enjoyed some warm syrup right from the pot on some French toast. Sooooooooooo good. Delicious.
Then I took the cherries and pureed them with a little more balsamic and some OJ for some fruit leather.
This all went into the dehydrator and again – delicious! Homemade fruit roll-ups are so awesome. They’re some work usually, but not too bad, and they’re totally worth it.
With the cherries done I moved on and tackled the cucumbers. Last year’s batch of bread & butter pickles was so delicious. I hope these ones are too.
And these were real pickles – not the quickles I’ve been doing so far. I sliced up the cukes and the onions, tossed them with some pickling salt, covered them with crushed ice and then a tea towel, and let them sit on the counter for about 3 hours.
After three hours I picked out the remaining ice and rinsed them really well. I got my pickling brine going – vinegar, sugar, turmeric, mustard seed, celery seed – and packed the cukes and onions into pint jars. I topped them with the brine and processed them in the water bath canner for 15 minutes.
My yield was only 5 1/2 pints and I fear our cukes are slowing down. Rats!
I also did some pretty bitchin’ bartering this week. My friend Kara is a master dehydrator and has all the fixin’s. We swapped a jar of cherry syrup for her fruit leather trays.
And my friends Brad and Rosalie visited me at the market for what is likely one of my best swaps ever! I traded Rosalie a jar of my Wild Turkey Cherry Jam for a jar of her family’s straight-from-Greece-real-deal olive oil! Woohoo!
Not a bad weekend!