Cherry season is here! (mid-June through early-Sept).
I often think of late spring through summer’s bounty and into early fall as a parade of one fresh fruit and vegetable after another. Bring on the balloons and floats: throw candy (cherries? raisins?) to the tots, ogle at the festive colors and marching bands (corn stalks?!). The parade is beginning – and the pinnacle is the state fair where farmers showcase their proud gourds and squashes, preserves and pickles, fruit pies and cobblers.
I am lucky to be in Washington State – one of five states that boasts of Northwest sweet cherries (ID, MT, OR, WA, UT)*. Our neck of the woods—I mean our orchards—are boast-worthy and beautiful. Soon road-stands will be lined with boxes of cherries, stores will have flats lined up by the door, food bloggers will be photographing this eye candy and we will no doubt spit pits at our next family gathering.
The cherries are here—summer is here!
And none too soon, as I just emptied my last jar of cherry chutney – one of my favorite cherry preserves from last season’s ‘parade’ (and perfect with meats, game, poultry). This year I will be snatching up even more cherries than ever: for freezing, drying, canning and just plain eating… maybe while I watch a ‘real’ parade?
Balsamic Cherry Chutney
makes 3-4 half pint jars.
4 cups stemmed, pitted sweet cherries
1 cup small diced onion
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup honey
1 cup raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup grated lemon peel
2 T lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh/coarsely ground pepper
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp chili powder
Place all ingredients in a pot and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. I mostly ignore it for 20-30 minutes until it thickens. Place in hot, sterilized jars and leave 1/2 inch headroom. Wipe rims, place on new lids and hot water bath/process for 10 minutes.
*I work with Northwest Cherry Growers / Washington State Fruit Commission; my words, recipes, love of cherries are my own.