Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries!

Spending Sunday in my friend John’s cherry orchard not only turned my life into a mass production enterprise for the last few days, but reminded me of the joys and treasures of the WV.  Imagine a perfect sunny day walking through the orchard with cherries just dripping off the trees.  It only took 20 minutes to get all the cherries I would need to store up for the winter.  
This orchard is planted in Sweetheart Cherries, a relatively new comer which has become popular with both the commercial grower and home gardener.  This variety is the last cherry of the season making a spectacular July finale.  I got pretty lucky to get any cherries at all as the orchard was harvested soon after the weekend for the fresh cherry market.  Sweethearts are becoming very popular because they are self-pollinating, so they can be used in a location where you would only want to plant one tree, perfect for the home gardener.  They are also grown as a dwarf tree making the fruit incredibly easy to harvest.

So I took the cherries home and have spent the last couple of days, drying, canning, preserving, infusing, baking, and eating cherries.  (Don't miss the "Must Have Cherry Recipes" links at the bottom of this post.)

One of the very best traditions that has evolved since my friend acquired his orchard is the making of  cherry infused bourbon, a relatively easy to make, but delicious libation.   I merely put enough cherries in a jar to be covered by a fifth of not too expensive bourbon, cover with a lid and wait. This will taste really good after a few days, even better after a week, and amazing at 2 weeks.  It keeps me warm through the winter.

Although I haven’t tried it, I have heard that dried cherries work even better.  Dried fruits tend to infuse fairly quickly, and leave a thicker feel to the liqueur.  Sounds good to me, maybe I’ll give this a try this year.

Speaking of dried cherries, I decided to try give it a try this time following the instructions from an old cookbook using an ancient method (simply drying them in a 150 degree oven).  I don’t think they turn out as well as I would have liked.
So I made a batch of chocolate, dried cherry biscotti with the cherries which turned out pretty good!  I also might use them up in    an new mixture of cherry bourbon.

Would you believe it, I just got a call from an old friend to come over and pick some blueberries.  Here I go again!

Life is good.  Bye for now.  E

Must Have Cherry Recipes                                                      

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