Our cherry monkey!
The cherries almost always ripen the weekend of Claire’s birthday, May 11th which is also Mother’s Day. This year they ripened late, surprising but in the end a blessing. Let me tell you what usually happens every year…usually the cherries ripen over night, one day they are not ready and the next they are bursting. Well, do you know how smart crows are? Crows are they are really really smart. I have tried everything to deter them from eating our sweet delicious cherries, we really try. The sad part is, is that day when the cherries ripen, the crows call all their sleek feathered friends over and by 8 am the trees are empty. They suck them off the tree like a cartoon cat eats a fish, in one inhale! Sometimes you can find a half eaten cherry swinging in the breeze but more than not those trees are empty. Under the trees in a massacre of the unsavory cherries the birds rejected. They don’t even leave them on the trees to ripen they just toss them to the ground to taunt us. Now I will tell you about the miracle that happened in our yard this year. We have a bird bath and I kept it full for the first time in forever, it attracted two Blue Jays, big beautiful ones, who love to splash around in our bath. They also like cherries but are much more polite than the crows, they eat one a day, not much.
The crows hate them, so it worked in our favor to host the Jays. They got very friendly and comfortable here in our yard one friend dubbed them “Guard Jay’s” and they were. Needless to say they kept the Crows away and we got an amazing harvest, almost 60 pounds of amazingly plump cherries. The problem is that I noticed the yard is very quiet the last few days, it seems that the Jay’s are gone, little freeloaders were just using us for our cherries. I thought they really liked us and were protecting our cherries, oh well they moved on. Today the crows enjoyed some of my baby lettuces, anyone have some Jay’s I can borrow? Darn crows!
Puffy custardy cherry pancake
Stems and bad cherries
I have never canned anything on a large-scale but I felt like I couldn’t let the cherries go to waste. I canned them in a simple syrup, it was easy and I may just be a convert to canning! Claire and I set out to can as many as we could, we ended up with about 50 jars! The kids can help if you keep organized, let them know you are using hot stuff! They can put the cherries in to the jars and help put the rings on the jars too.
Canned Sweet Cherries
Make use of a bot of boiling water to make utensils sterile and for making hot rags to wipe the jars with. You can save the left over juice form the eaten cherries to use for drinks, like Shirley Temples!
(Rainier or Bing)
10 pounds sweet cherries (Rainier, Bing, or other sweet variety
16 cups water
8 cups sugar
Wash jars and place on a cookie sheet a 300 degree oven on their sides. For sterile jars leave in about 45 minutes to an hour.
boil lids to sterilize.
Wash cherries in a sterile sink or bowl and pit your cherries. I left mine with pits,in for a nuttier flavor.
Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep hot (but not boiling) while you prepare your jars.
Keep your jars in the oven until and take them out in small batches as you fill them. Do not add hot syrup to a cold jar it will crack.
With a clean sterile spoon, stuff cherries as you can into each jar, press them down.
I had tons of vanilla beans so I added 1 inch pieces of whole vanilla bean to some of my jars.
Using a ladle fill each jar with the hot syrup, stopping just shy of the rim. I like to do this on a rimmed cookie sheet. With a clean, hot, wet cloth, wipe the rims of the jars and place the sealers and lids on top. Tighten with your hands.
Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Remove from the water bath carefully place jars on a towel, let cool, and listen for the pops. Of course, refrigerate any jars that do not seal and eat them immediately.
The last of our harvest after removing stems
Claire stuffing jars
Using a sterile spoon to stuff jars
A custard-y cherry pancake made with our fresh cherries. I used Michelle Stern’s puffy apple pancake recipe from her book, Whole Family Cookbook.
Adapted from Michelle Stern’s Whole Family Cookbook
I made this batter in a blender, it was really easy and clean up was a breeze. If you have a Vitamix or Blendtec I recommend using them for this recipe. A regular blender works fine too. Add all the ingredients to a blender jar and whirl just until blended and follow the ecooking directions.
5 Tbs. Butter, divided
3/4 cup Milk
3 Tbs. Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Flour
1 cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave or in a saucepan.
In a medium-sized bowl, crack the eggs.
Beat the eggs lightly and then add the melted butter.
Measure milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, vanilla, ground cinnamon, salt, and flour, and add them to the eggs.
Mix all of the ingredients until the batter is well blended.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 10″ ovenproof skillet. Add cherries and cook until they are soft 5 minutes.
Put on oven mitts and take the skillet off the heat. Pour the batter over the cherries.
Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 15-25 minutes until gently browned and puffed. (Do not open the oven during the first 15 minutes of the cooking process, or the puff will deflate!)
Put on oven mitts, remove the skillet from the oven, and immediately place an oven mitt over the handle, so that you won’t accidentally burn your hand.
Cut the puff into wedges and serve immediately.