Cherry season is one of our favorites, but it never seems to be around long enough! It seems that every year, we’re scurrying to get and create something special with these delightful little fruits!
We’re very blessed to live in an area with several wonderful orchards including some that offer the “Pick Your Own” opportunity! I have fond memories of going to Cherry Hill Orchards with my mother and siblings 30 years ago and love sharing that with my own children.
I haven’t done comparison pricing for cherries in other regions, but in our area, the pick your own price is usually close to ½ of what you’d pay at market. So if you have the opportunity to pick, it’s usually worth your time! Plus, you can put those fruit bins you’ve been squirreling away to use again!
We decided to make a double batch of sweet cherry vanilla jam with our freshly picked goodies. However, we’ve heard cherries make a great kombucha. Phickle has a recipe for sweet cherry kombucha and a giveaway of our 32oz Amber Growlettes and a Stainless Steel Funnel on her blog.
I knew that we’d be on a tight schedule to get these cherries into the jam kettle, so when we picked them, we didn’t keep the stems. This will also cut down on your weight when paying….why pay for stems? However, if you will not be able to get to your cherries quickly, I’d recommend picking them with their stems as it helps to last a little longer after being removed from the tree. The light ones will start to show visible browning around that broken flesh very shortly after picking, but any stemmed cherry will spoil more quickly.
We rinsed our cherries in cold water, removed any imperfect cherries and promptly drained them.
My faithful little helpers took care of pitting the cherries with our nifty Push Button Cherry Pitter. They had fun seeing who was filling their mason jar the quickest! If you haven’t used one of these pitters, you’ll want to check out our video.
While the cherries were being pitted, I mixed up my calcium water according to the Pomona’s Pectin pamphlet (1 teaspoon calcium powder into 1 cup water in a jar). I got my water going in my canners and gathered my jars and lids. Because of the plentiful cherries, I decided to do a double batch. Half the batch went into a variety of 8oz mason jars and the other half in 9oz Hexagon lug jars.
Because the recipe calls for Pomona’s Pectin, doubling is allowed! As is an adjustment of sugar! Please note, though…sugar does play a role in lowering water activity in preserved products and helps to prolong the shelf life.
18 cups pitted sweet cherries (we mixed the light sweet and the dark – figured we’d get a lighter more red color)
4 lemons – zested & juiced
6 teaspoons calcium water
4 cups sugar
6 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin
1 – 2 vanilla beans