Garden Diary - June 2011

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Sunday, 19 June 2011
Saving Summer in a Jar: Sour Cherries

Tuesday will be the first day of summer. I've already begun saving summer in a jar. Dick called yesterday and said the sour cherries in his orchard are ripening, and did I want any. Excellent news. Sour cherries are difficult to find in grocery stores and supermarkets. Dick has two trees. One is a Montmorency that he planted, and the other was planted by his uncle. While both are tart, the older tree is quite sour. I think it might be a Morello. This morning I went over, and drove up to the orchard.

This year, for the first time, birds have been pecking at the sour cherries. Dick had to net the trees.
Odd, he said, as the weather has been wet enough that water is available, and they have ample food.
He has tall, T-shaped poles with a padded crosspiece that are used to guide the nets over the trees.
Boards and weights hold the net to the ground, moved aside to we can get in to harvest, then replaced.

The Montmorency is ready to harvest, branches loaded with glistening bright red fruit. We use clippers
to cut each stem and drop the fruit in a plastic bucket. Pulling damages the spur, reducing next year's crop.


Each of us quickly and companionably picked a half bucket.
Combined, the full bucket held 7 pounds of sour cherries.

I rinsed 10 cups of cherries, then pitted them. That's about half of what we picked. I use an Oxo cherry pitter. Stem the cherry, set it above the plastic tube, stem scar up. Squeeze, and the pit is forced out the other side. I used to pit with a hairpin slipped in through the stem scar. Twirl, pit nestles in the U and lift it out. Elegantly intact fruit but much more laborious. The Oxo works fine. First batch I made was Sour Cherry Mustard Relish. Delicious accompaniment with venison, pork, duck, goose. Good with lentils too. Should mature for a couple of months, even better after six. The remainder of the cherries will become jam. And on Tuesday I'll go back to pick Morello sour cherries from the other tree. Options and possibilities to save summer in a jar.

On Thursday, 14 July 2011 from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. I'll be teaching a class on "Saving Summer's Bounty: Sweet Preserves"
at Back to Nature Home and Garden Center, 3055 Valley Road, Basking Ridge New Jersey.
This lecture will show you how to simply and safely preserve summer's bounty as sweet treats
to enjoy later in the year. Fruit butters, jams, conserves and more are easy to make, delicious
and homemade in the kitchen means no high fructose corn syrup or artificial preservatives.
Registration is $20 / attendee and includes handouts and samples for tasting. You can
register here on theBack to Nature Home and Garden website.

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