Sweet Juicy Cherries!
A few years ago I made this delicious cherry sauce and remembered what I had written about it, so I thought I would share it today as the local cherries are perfect for picking and creating delicious recipes with! I hope you enjoy...
I must admit that I love to eat cherries in mass quantities and when that dark red juicy drips down the side of my mouth I feel like a little kid again. I remember many family members had cherry trees in their backyards and we would jump up trying to grab handfuls of the fruit not really knowing if they were ripe or not. We were simply trying to get to them before the birds ate them all! That never seemed to bother my aunts or family friends as they felt they had plenty to share with their families so the birds were allowed to enjoy as well.
I love going to the market each week to see what fruit is coming into season and of course right now we are hitting a peak! I actually had Ontario blueberries, strawberries and cherries on the table all at once, I was truly in a sweet heaven.
There are a number of varieties of cherries available in Ontario, but many of us do a simple category of sweet or sour cherries. Sweet cherries come in many varieties and when you are talking to the farmers or vendors they can tell you what they are selling. One common one that many recognize is the Bing variety but that deep dark red colour with a meaty flesh can also be a Hedelfingen, Vista or Lapin variety just to name a few as well.
Sour cherries we know around Ontario are Montmorency and are a big favourite for pie and jam makers.
I know I have bought the pails of sour cherries to make cherry pie which is a big favourite of the men in the family. But I have to admit that I haven’t done much with the sweet cherries other than enjoy them on their own. Easily enjoying about 1 cup (250 mL) of cherries will offer up a great snack with only about 85 calories and no fat while adding a bit of fibre to your daily intake.
I always wanted to make cherry jam but knew that not many would eat it, so I started doing some research on cherry jam and the different ways to make it. You can use pectin to set it or you can do a long boil with sugar to set it as well. Now that is when I realized that perhaps it wasn’t really jam I was looking to make but a sauce that had some versatility for me to use in different recipes. So I decided to create a little cherry recipe in the kitchen with a cherry bounty! I decided that about 4 lbs (2 kg) of cherries would be a good start to my recipe.
Now some tips that I will offer up to you if you want to start on such an adventure, find yourself a cherry pitter or wear gloves. If not you will have beautifully cherry stained fingertips that may stick around for longer than expected.
This is the perfect thing to do while enjoying a conversation the time simply slips by and your cherries are ready to go.
The aroma outside was sweet and cherry like so I was getting excited to see what my end result would become. After what I thought would be enough boiling I removed the pot of cherry lava and packed it in 4 clean canning jars with sterilized lids and sealed them. I sneaked a little taste and I was in love, it was slightly sweet with a big cherry flavour. The cherries were tender but still visible in big pieces. I let them rest on my counter and within a few moments I heard the lids pop as the heat was steaming away and they were cooling.
A few hours had passed and I couldn’t wait anymore, I opened up a jar and dipped a small spoon into the jar, wow I was ready to enjoy more. I remembered I had some black cherry ice cream in the freezer so I went and scooped some into a bowl and drizzled the cherry sauce over top. Extreme food love alert-I loved it! Now I knew my mind would start racing as to what else I could use this sauce for cakes, tart fillings, over top of pancakes and waffles, drizzled over fruit, ice cream or served with chocolate chip cookies or luscious brownies or to make the best banana split ever.
I was so happy with my results I wanted to share what I had done with everyone. It is great to know that I have discovered another delicious way to enjoy sweet cherries just a little bit different this summer. I know I will continue to eat them as is but for now I am also glad to know I can spoon it over top so much more as well when this sweet local fruit is no longer around.
My First Cherry Sauce
Because I wasn’t totally prepared to make the sauce I ran out of granulated sugar and used some golden brown sugar. I think it added to the caramel flavour that resulted. So I wrote the recipe with the brown sugar, if you have enough granulated sugar it will work just as well.
4 lbs (2 kg) sweet cherries, washed
3 cups (750 mL) granulated sugar
2 cups (500 mL) packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh lemon juice
Stem, halve and pit cherries to make 8 cups (2 L). Pour into large deep pot. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (There should be some natural cherry juices in the pot at this point.) Remove lid and stir in granulated and brown sugars and lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil and stir. Using a stainless steel spoon, remove some of the foam that appears on top occasionally. Boil, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until mixture appears thickened and cherries are very tender.
Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized glass jars. (I used three 2 cup (500 mL) jars and one 1 cup (250 mL) jar.) Wipe edge and top of jars and top with jar lids and bands. Tighten finger tip tight and set aside.
Let stand for at least 4 hours to cool in jars. Once lids pop and come to room temperature you can store in refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Makes about 7 cups (1. 75 L).