Sunday, May 25, 2014

Prepping Cherries for Canning

What a weekend, and it's not even halfway over yet!  Whew.  I've been canning some cherries, helping a friend prep for her son's first birthday, sitting out entirely too late enjoying this weather with friends, and making sure my tiny child beast is thoroughly covered in dirt each day.

Sun-kissed and dog tired, loving every minute of it.

Now I'm going to admit, as far as my experience with canning tells me, cherries are the biggest pain in the arse.  Tiny fruits make for longer harvesting time, and unlike small berries, they need to be pitted.  Cherries also have a very, really, truly, extremely short shelf life.  As in you'd probably better get them canned within 24 hours of picking.  They also need to be hand checked individually.  Ugh, it's an ordeal.  

Here's my set up.  I had previously washed them, (although now that I've done it, I recommend stemming before washing) and was hand sorting them to check for bad spots.

There are good cherries, bad cherries, and bruised cherries.  Bad ones must get tossed, or be thrown to the ducks.  Good ones get pitted and dropped into diluted lemon juice to prevent browning.  Bruised ones get put aside to use for this evening's dessert.  They're perfectly edible, but for all things canning you really only want the freshest, most pristine produce available.  

These are the bruised ones.  Still just fine, but you can see the dark spots on them.  Any cherries with a brown spot the size of a pencil eraser or larger get tossed in here.

In comparison, here's the purty, canning-approved cherries.

Pitted and soaking to prevent browning where they split.

See this cherry?  Looks great, right?  Wrong.  There's a brown spot on the backside.

This is what it looks like on the inside.  Kiiiinda yucky.  Once it's been cooked, canned, and water bathed, it's even less appetizing.  This is why the selecting is important.  Well, that, and if there's any bacteria hidden in a quasi-bad cherry, it could potentially cause botulism.  And I dunno if I've mentioned, but botulism = no good.  So anything that can be done to decrease the risk, should be.

Anyway, this is just the preparation for the canning process.  But you have to do it for a couple hundred cherries.  No biggie.  This is just the beginning of the process.  Once you get them soaked in a water-lemon juice mixture, they are ready to go on to your next canning recipe!

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