Very Cherry Recipes
We've had quite a cherry harvest this year! We have two trees that provided us with thousands of big juicy Rainier and Bing cherries. They gave us plenty of opportunities to do all sorts of great things. Here are a few of the ideas that we tried this year to preserve and enjoy these tasty gems.
Sun Dried Cherries
Sun dried cherries make a great addition to salads, cookies, biscotti, even pizza! Solstice Wood Fire Cafe in Hood River, OR makes an award winning pizza with Country Girl Cherries, chorizo sausage, goat cheese and a sprinkle of rosemary and thyme that's really outrageous.
Rinse the cherries and remove the stones. Cut them in half, then place them on a sheet pan cut side up in the sun. Cover them with clean screen to keep the bugs away and let them dry naturally. I dried these for about 4 hours, then when the sun went down, I placed them in the oven overnight for safe keeping. (No heat) The next day, I set them out for another 6 hours or so. It was about 90 degrees outside and the cherries dried beautifully. After bringing them in and letting them cool to about 70 degrees, I put them in airtight plastic containers. They will keep for a few weeks until I use them all up.
After they are frozen you can put them into freezer bags and keep them for up to 18 months. They won't have the same texture as fresh but they will be wonderful in recipes, pies, pastries sauces, you name it.
They are also great to eat frozen right out of the bag or to add to a cherry themed cocktail. They will even help keep your drink chilled!
My husband loves to use these straight out of the bag on his morning granola. Looking for another great recipe? Try Mike's Mad Good Granola.
I also want to keep some cherries for much longer so I set lots of them up to freeze.
Rinse the cherries and remove the pits with a cherry pitter. Toss them into reusable foil pans or onto sheet pans and freeze them in a single layer so they stay separated.
We tried a few other methods for removing the stones and found that if you are processing this many cherries, an actual cherry pitting tool is necessary. Otherwise it's just too time consuming.
Making Fruit Leather
I think what our kids like best is the Cherry Fruit Leather, also well known as Fruit Roll Ups. Keep in mind these kids are adults now. It's not just for children you know!
I used to make strawberry fruit roll ups with my Grandma years ago so I thought we should try this with our cherries. It's fabulous! I cook pitted cherries with just a touch of water and little sugar for about 10 minutes then puree them in the blender. Spread the puree out on a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap and let it sun dry. Cut it into strips and enjoy!
Canning in extra light syrup makes them so refreshing! You can store then for a long time and make all kinds of wonderful things but they are simply delicious cold from the refrigerator on a hot summer's day.
To learn more about canning cherries, visit The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Home canning is very rewarding but strict attention to detail is important to prevent spoilage that could lead to serious illness. You can learn all about how to preserve cherries like these on their website.
Rainier Cherry Puff Pastry Pie
I made this fun puff pastry pie first. I cooked some of the Rainier Cherries after removing the pits with just a few tablespoons of water, a little sugar and cornstarch. In 10 minutes I had a delicious pie filling.
With a rolling pin, I rolled out a sheet of store bought frozen puff pastry that I had thawed big enough so that I could cut it into a circle to fit my pie plate. I pressed it gently into the plate, then filled it with the Rainier Pie filling that had cooled.
I really didn't want to waste the scraps I had cut from the puff pastry sheet so I made some little pin wheels with them and baked them separately, placing them on the top after baking the puff pastry pie.
Rainier Cherry Pie
To make this pie, I used some of the Rainier Cherries I had canned earlier. I used store bought refrigerator pie crust to save some time since I've been especially busy lately and it turned out great!