pickled cherries - home canning
I recently took a canning class from my friend Marisa of Food in Jars. She is a go-to resource online for all things canning and her recent book belongs on my coffee table (well okay: it isn't on my coffee table. It is hanging out on my all-things-homesteading shelf in my kitchen; pages are stuck together from jam and sputtering juice.) But it very well COULD be on my coffee table because it is a beautiful book, permeating that vintage urban feel I have come to love.
I have made quite a few recipes from her book, the most recent of which is pickled sweet cherries. I love how easy these are to make, and am loving putting up foods with 'cold packs.'
Cold pack means you fill your [sanitized but not necessarily hot] jars with fruit---usually whole or halved---packing in the fruit as tight as you can before adding the liquid. You bring the liquid to a boil, cover the fruit then use the hot-water bath method to seal and preserve. A key detail in preserving this way is to make sure to let out the bubbles. In other words: once you have poured the liquid over your cherries/apricots/asparagus/etc., use a wood skewer or chopstick around the edges of the fruit to release any air pockets. No, you may not get out ALL of the air but the more the better. And yes: it is still safe/well-preserved even with a tiny air pocket here or there.
It is as simple as: clean your jars in the dishwasher, and use clean towels and boiling water throughout the process. Pit your cherries, fill the jars with the cherries (leave about 3/4 inch head space above cherries). Boil the liquid, pour on top of cherries, run the skewer inside the jar to release excess air then wipe the rims (paper towel with hot water works just fine). Place lids on top and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Adapted from Marisa:
Pickled Sweet Cherries makes 4 pint jars.
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar (make sure it says 5% acidity on the bottle of vinegar---all pickling needs a vinegar in excess of 5% acidity) 2 cups sugar 2 T pickling salt 4 bay leaves 32 black peppercorns 2 1/2 LBS sweet cherries washed, with stems trimmed (cut off stem tops, but leave about an inch of stem)
Prepare jars and lids. Combine vinegar, 2 cups water, sugar and salt in a pot and bring to boil. Place 1 bay leaf and 8 peppercorns in each jar. Pack cherries into jars. Pour hot brine over cherries, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water onto towel and let rest for 24 hours.
I think 'pickles' taste quite a bit better having been in the jar for a few months. Just saying: think Christmas.