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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cherry Vanilla Preserves

This was my scrumptious breakfast this morning. Cherry preserves with fragrant vanilla and Greek yogurt. It's been a while since I've been able to get the water bath rolling.

You may have noticed that I didn't have a Random Food Friday this week. I was super busy, didn't get to the store, and my eating just wasn't very interesting. I'm glad to have a preserve to offer this week. Random Food Fridays will likely end up being on random Fridays and not every week.

The cherries for this preserve came from our friends Brian and Rosie. Rosie puts up some mighty fine preserves herself. She's been gracious enough to share some of the bounty of their little orchard with me this year. She's contributed fruit to my orange and grapefruit marmalades, these cherry preserves, and a cobbler to two. Thanks Rosie!

The heady vanilla fragrance comes from this very special little bean. Our friends Vicki and Bob recently took an awesome cruise in the South Seas. She thoughtfully brought back some vanilla beans from Huahine in French Polynesia. She was able to purchase them from the growers and learn about how they grow and are prepared for market. I've very grateful to enjoy such a special treat.

One of the great things about returning to canning after a break is that I realize how much I've learned. This cherry preserve was made without added pectin. I like pectin for some fruits, and it certainly cuts down on the time standing and stirring over a hot pan, but making preserves without pectin offers more freedom. I can use any amount or combination of fruits and any amount of sugar that suits me. I just have to insure proper acidity and use a thermometer and my eyes to tell when it is at just the right stage.

Cherry Vanilla Preserves
3 lbs. plus 9 oz. pitted and halved cherries (ball park it - this just happens to be the amount I had)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean

Wash and prepare 5 half pint jars, lids and rings. Begin to heat the boiling water bath.

Place a few saucers in the freezer.

Split and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean. Add all the ingredients to a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and boil gently until it reaches about 222 degrees, stirring frequently. (My thermometer may be wonky, but my preserves always start to jell before I reach this temp. Watch closely as you get to about 218 degrees. 222 is the official "jell stage" temperature.) Test the preserve by scooping out a teaspoon and placing it on a frozen saucer. If it bunches up when pushed, it is done. Remove the vanilla pod. Remove the pot from heat and stir gently for a minute. This helps to distribute the fruit.

Carefully pour into prepared jars. Wipe rims and cover with lids and rings. Carefully lift into the boiling water bath. Process for 10 minutes. Carefully remove and place on a tea towel. Let stand overnight before labeling the jars.

YUM!

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