I know that summer is here because the dehydrator has come out of hybernation and the produce picking has begun!! I may have already mentioned this, but Stella is a Fruit-aholic! So when fruit is on sale during the summer I buy a lot and preserve for the winter – this past week mangos were on sale – so the first fruit of the season to be dehydrated!
It is also cherry season here in New York and last weekend we went cherry picking. I love taking people with me who have never picked their own food and experience the joy and pride and bringing home the “goods”! I took 3 newbies with me and they are now hooked – asking when am I going picking again. Between Stella and me we picked about 10 – 11 pounds of cherry. Last year the cherry harvest was not good, so this year to get what we did was fantastic. I try to pick when I know I will have a couple of days to preserve the harvest. I decided to both dehydrate and make jam, but left plenty for us to just enjoy by popping into our mouth. We had a wedding to go to and I was almost late – I was so caught up in making jam!
During the course of the summer I visit many farms in the
Hudson Valley. It has taken some time, but I now have my favorites for the different fruits and vegetables. The farm we picked the cherries is wonderful and they have so many fruits and vegetables that I visit from May through October!
I use a dehydrator to preserve my food – but you could use a gas oven or the sun. Wash and cut the fruit. Each fruit is different on the amount of time it takes to dehydrate and also on how dehydrated you want. It always looks like a lot of fruit, but after it has dehydrated it is so little! I dehydrated 4 mangoes and did not even get a full jar. For the cherries I filled 7 trays and again did not even get a full jar. Even though it does not seem like a lot, the fruit gets sweeter when dehydrated and so your serving size is smaller.
4 – 6 half pint canning jars and lids
2 large pots
Food mill (optional)
Cherry stoner (optional – but makes it go so much faster)
4 cups, chopped cherries (about 3 pounds)
2 packages of pectin
2 – 3 cups of sugar
1. Wash the jars and lids in soapy water and then place the jars into a large pot, fill with water and bring to a boil – this will sterilize the jars. You can do this step with a dishwasher, but I do not have one. Once the jars come to a boil – let boil for about 5 minutes and then turn the heat off, keep lid on. Place the lids in a small pot and fill with water – set aside.
2. Wash cherries and pit the fruit. You can place the cherries into a bowl of water with lemon juice to prevent browning. I did not do that – the cherries were almost black in color – figured you would not even notice any browning.
3. Either by knife (what I used) or with a food mill – you need to cut the cherries up. I like to know that there is fruit in my jams and preserves – so I choose to hand chop. Fill a 4 cup measuring cup.
4. Mix about 1 1/4 box of pectin with a 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl. You want to mix the pectin with sugar to prevent clumping. I buy my pectin in a large container – so I used about 6 Tbl.
5. Place a metal spoon in the freezer.
6. Place the cherries in a large pot, add the pectin and sugar mixture and if the cherries are on the sweet side add 2 Tbl of lemon juice – this is to help with the acidity level. Bring to a hard boil (when you can’t stir the bubbles away).
7. Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining sugar. I chose to use very little sugar – total 2 cups – but you can use up to 4 cups. My cherries were sweet already. Bring the mixture back to a boil – the slower you do this the less foam will form.
8. Place the pot with the lids on the stove and bring the water to almost a boil and then turn off water.
9. Take the jars out of the water and place on a dish cloth lined counter top. Get your funnel ready. Also take the lids out and place on dish towel.
10. Place the lid back on the pot of water that the jars were in and turn the heat on to get the water bath ready. You want the water boiling when you put the jars back in.
11. Once the preserve mixture has come to a boil again – then you are almost ready. Take the spoon out of the freezer and scoop a little of the mixture onto the spoon – let cool to room temperature – if the consistency is to your liking – turn the heat off – if not wash off the spoon stick back in the freezer, add a little more pectin to the mix, stir and let cook for a few minutes more – then test with spoon.
12. Using the funnel and ladle – fill jars to about 1/4″ from the top.
13. Wipe off the tops of each jar – you want a clean surface. Place the lids on each jar and then place ring and tighten.
14. Using a jar grabber, place each jar back into the boiling water and place the lid back on. Allow to boil for at least 5 minutes (according to Clemson University), but I usually do for 10 minutes.
15. Take the jars out and place on dish cloth. Listen for the pop – this is the jar sealing. If the jar does not seal – turn upside down and allow to sit like that for about 15 – 20 and the jar should seal – if not that is the jar that you will use right away.
Happy canning and dehydrating!!