Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry

Cherries on the Cheap


With all the pick-your-own madness infecting my home this summer, There’s one thing I haven’t mentioned yet: Cherries. I love cherries, but let’s face facts: They’re not always easy to find in good qualities, they can cost an arm and a leg, and considering how fragile they are the pick-your-own thing is almost unheard of. At least, that’s the way it is in my area. Imagine my amazement then when we found bags of sweet dark cherries at the grocery store for 1.99$ per pound! Normally we see prices around the 4.50$ range. For that price, FUHGEDDABOUDIT! 1.99$ is so good in comparison that we bought 6 pounds. Next year, if we can get a similar deal, we’ll buy even more.

We also picked up a cherry pitter at Williams Sonoma, the only kitchen gadget store in the mall near the play area. It’s kind of sad the criteria we use to pick stores when we’re out shopping as a family. If the munchkin isn’t happy, none of us are happy.

First things first, we stuffed a pint jar with pitted cherries, topped it off with light rum and let it steep for about two weeks.  Looking back I’m wishing we used vodka instead; but the resulting liquor has a great cherry flavor and works wonderfully in rum cocktails. Three words for you: Crimson cherry mohitos. Next year we may attempt a similar concoction with vodka.

We made a lot of cherry jam too. We made a normal batch of cherry jam following the directions on the Sure Jell low-sugar pectin packet. Then I made a batch without pectin which I cooked down into more of a “compote” than a “jam”. Finally I tried the pectin-free thing once more, but this time I got nervous and didn’t cook it enough. This last batch tastes amazing but is a little bit more syrupy than most jams. I still like it on toast and biscuits, you just have to be careful where you drip.

Shown in this picture, from left to right: A quart of cherry pie filling,
a half-pint of no-pectin cherry jam, and two half-pints of peach jam and vanilla peach jam.

Since these cherry jams were among the first things I canned we ended up giving away many of them, as well as many of the first jars of peach jam, as gifts. I enjoy them so much myself, and I know other people have loved receiving them as well, so next year I plan to make much more of the stuff.

The whole experience has convinced me to get a cherry tree of my own, and next spring I plan to do exactly that. There are lots of hard decisions to make about what variety of tree to get, but I’ll write about all those things when it’s closer to spring.

Author: Andrew Whitworth

I'm a software engineer from Philadelphia PA. Sometimes I like to go out to my garden, or step into my kitchen and make a really big mess of things.

8 thoughts on “Cherries on the Cheap

  1. I love the no-pectin cherry jam … Next try it with some vanilla bean! Yummy!

    • Thanks for the suggestion! A few recipes I saw suggested a dash of amaretto or almond flavor. I did that for one batch and didn’t notice a big difference. I did a batch of peach jam with vanilla and I loved it. I will definitely do cherry+vanilla next year.

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