ABOVE: Cherry Jam w/ Amaretto and spices
I scored a huge amount of cherries from a roadside stand–at a great price. Well, maybe not such a great price in some regions, but $1.99 lb for sweet purple firm bing cherries in the Seattle area are a steal!
I placed the bags of cherries in the fridge and stepped outside to work in the gardens. It was one of those days when everything needs to be done: tomato pruning, watering, weeding, mulching, and chicken tending. After the veggies and chickens were taken care of the roses needed feeding, pruned, and watered. I have over 20 rose bushes in my yard. I’m sure rose owners feel my pain. By days end I was beat!
By the time I came inside the house it was getting dark outside. I told Mark I was going to soak in the tub and asked him if he’d test the cherry pitter I bought from the thrift shop. I specifically added, “Just try it on one cherry.”
When I exited the bathroom–refreshed and ready to fall into bed–I caught a sight out of my peripheral vision. Horrified at what I was seeing, I shrieked,
“What are you doing?”
“Pitting the cherries for you.”
“Oh my God! I specifically asked you to try it on just one!”
“I know, but I thought I’d surprise you and get them all done so you won’t have to do it.”
How do you keep steam from shooting out of your ears when your starting to foam at the mouth? I mean, he had this look on his face that said, “Surprise!” yet in my mind I knew this meant I’d be up half the night canning cherries. Cherries go bad fast after pitting. I mean, why is he looking all innocent? You know that look? Like a sad hound dog? Innocent and friendly? Well, I suppose a kindly person would have smiled and went to work. I didn’t react like a kindly person.
Picture, if you will, a half nude, mascara dripping, barefoot, middle aged woman wearing a headband and a towel raging through the kitchen out into the garage grabbing a giant canner that clangs into the night.
“Where are the goddamned canning jars Mark?”
“What’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong–my back is out, my head hurts, my sinuses are stuffed with allergies, and I have to can ten pounds of cherries before they rot–that’s what’s wrong!”
“Oh damn, sorry honey, I didn’t know.”
Another hound dog expression.
I tried to calm down, I swear I tried. My awareness just wasn’t going to kick in at this moment. I traveled back to the past, into the future, and out of my mind.
I then started to whine, “I’m going to need a lot of help.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes”
You know, this is probably music to most married women’s ears. Well, maybe a younger married woman’s ears who hasn’t spent 25 years with the same man. The same man who can’t find anything in the kitchen. The same man who doesn’t know the difference between chopping and pureeing. So, I put him to work—cleaning.
The entire canning process was not fun. Through it all I made sure Mark knew I was not enjoying myself. Clanging, dropping, screams from burns, frowns, tears, grumbles, you name it–I had it covered.
In the end, I explained to Mark that I wasn’t angry at him, I was just disappointed in having to work into the night over a hot stove canning jams and cherries. Of course I had to end with a disclaimer: “Unless, of course, you were being passive aggressive. In that case, I’m angry at you.”
I am one who believes the energy and space you are in while working with food, goes into the food. Normally, I think loving thoughts and move through the process as Zen-like as possible. That said, I am going to give my cherry jams to passive people. There’s fire in them there jars 🙂
Peace out and happy canning!
Above: whole cherries infused in Cointreau and Brandy
Bing Cherry Jam Ingredients
|4 c Pitted; chopped bing||1/4 ts Salt|
|1 pk Powdered pectin||1/2 ts Ground cinnamon|
|1/4 c Lemonjuice||1/2 ts Ground cloves|
|1/4 c Amaretto||4 1/2 c Sugar|
Instructions for Bing Cherry Jam
(from Ball Blue Book) Place all ingredients, except the sugar, into a 4-6 quart (3800-5200 ml) kettle, bring the mixture to a boil that cannot be stirred down. Immediately add the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes. Skim mixture. Pour hot jam immediately into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch ( 6 mm) head space. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Yield 5 or 6 half-pint jars.
cherries with blemishes.
Prick each cherry with a sterilized needle and
place into canning jars.
Fill with desired infusion.
Clean the rim of each jar with a damp paper
towel. Close and let fruit infuse in dark, cool
place for 3 months. Turn jars weekly for 1 month.
No sterilization is necessary.