In the last 2 years I have taken on several new hobbies… I know that is the last thing I needed to do, but I find that in these projects, I find a sense of stillness that I don’t get in other places. This page is dedicated to taking you through some of my projects so that you can share in my creative process.
Last weekend, I was in the need for a mini adventure. I don’t know exactly what brings this out in me but once in awhile I must spread my wings and fly. Thus my husband, and my dog joined me in a cherry picking adventure. We arrived at Kelly Orchards just as the warm part of the afternoon hit us. However, this did not dissuade us from our mission. Each and every cherry tree was loaded with beautiful pie cherries waiting for us to pick them.
I sent my husband up to the tree tops to get the ones that had been most kissed by the sun.
In just about 1 hour we had picked 20lbs of cherries between the two of us. At $.75/lb, our haul only cost us $15.00. Then it was back home to figure out just what to do with our lovely treasure. By the time we completed our 1hr 45min ish trip back home our cherries were a bit on the soft side. My clever husband decided it would be best to soak them in an ice bath in our sink… it did just the trick to firm them back up.
After we let the cherries sit it was time to get all of the pits out. I had read many different tricks on the internet how this could be done, but I decided the only way to do 20lbs of cherries was to invest in a handy dandy cherry stoner. Mine looks much like this:
In less than 2hrs I had all of the cherries pitted and ready to become pie filling. I sat the pitted cherries in the refrigerator overnight to allow the juices to come out a bit. The next day I used the recipe from my favorite cookbook to make pie filling. (I had to modify it a bit for fresh cherries. )
- 2 14-1/2-ounce cans pitted tart red cherries (water pack) NOTE: or 4 cups fresh cherries.
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- · A pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (don’t leave this step out… it is what gives you the correct flavor)
In a pan combine half of your sugar and all of your cornstarch and salt. Add ½ cup of juice from the cherries combined with ½ cup of water. Heat on medium until the mixture thickens and bubbles. (it will be the consistency of hot fudge) Remove from heat. Add the rest of your sugar and the rest of your ingredients. Stir together and let sit for about 5min. (NOTE: This is for a single batch. I found that it actually works best to work in double batches. My single batch was the most difficult.)
Our final step was to transfer our pie filling into vacuum seal bags. (Each bag gets about 5cups of pie filling. Try to distribute cherries and liquid equally) Once we had all of our batches complete, they were ready to go into the freezer to be used when I need to quickly throw together a pie.
A mistake I made along the way: With my first batch I didn’t read the instructions correctly and I didn’t reserve half of my sugar in the initial step… this caused the liquid to not thicken properly. While I won’t be able to use that batch for pie filling I still plan to use it for either ice cream topping or other recipes. (I may be able to get it to thicken more by putting it back on the stove and adding more corn starch.)