Monday, July 9, 2012

Cherry Season

The cherries are here!  Cherry season is finally upon us and the tables at the market now stock neat boxes packed with the deep red little fruit.  For some, however, this season either didn't come at all or came with little promise.  Here in the Midwest, we had a week of summer weather in very early spring followed by more normal, down to freezing, spring temperatures.  This combination proved disastrous for fruit blossoms as they came out for spring and in some cases were then frozen off their branches.  Thankfully, a few vendors at Green City Market were still able to bring a small crop to market.

Knowing that the harvest would be small this year, Grady and I took the first opportunity to buy 8 pints of cherries to save up for future use.  Not only did we get a delicious box full of sweet and sour (1/2 and 1/2) cherries, but Grady also bought me a small bouquet of elderflowers {post to come on this}!!! 

We spent about an hour together on Independence Day just standing in the kitchen, pitting cherries.  Having no special device to remove said pits, we experimented with different techniques using a wooden chopstick.  Overall, certainly a messy endeavor but so worth it as long as you're wearing an apron!

For the moment, we are freezing most of the excess produce we bring home.  There are many ways of preserving food and there are pros and cons to each one.  Freezing uses up energy to keep things frozen, it's a big problem if you lose power for more than a few hours (well, less of a problem with fruit than meat), and it can make the produce watery once thawed.  Still, we are using this method for fruit right now because it seems to be the best way to keep just the fruit.  I don't want to make jams and jellies, except a very small batch or two, because we rarely eat them and they all require sweetener, usually white sugar, to preserve.  We simply are looking to have fruit in as close to natural state as possible come winter.  I have no citation for this at the moment, but I have also read in numerous places that freezing is the best method for retaining maximum nutrients since canning cooks them and depletes them.  One caveat to the above would be that natural fermentation often is the best choice because it preserves using no energy and it often makes nutrients more available than when the produce was fresh.  We have a few fermentations on the counter right now too, but that will also wait for another post.

Our summer kitchen is busy and full.  Cherries are our latest joy but there are still more fruits and berries to come (not to mention the cabbage, cucumbers, squash, basil, etc ....)!  How are you putting up summer's bounty in your kitchen?

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