This past week, we've picked over 20 pounds of cherries. Picking them in the easy part. I never remember in my zeal for picking them that we will have to process all of them which is not quite as much fun. I try very hard not to buy too many specialized gadgets but I will be buying a cherry pitter for next year. If you don't have a cherry pitter, you can make due with a paper clip that's been bent into a 'S' shape. Bend the botton curve up a tiny bit and insert it into a cherry at the stem end. Pie cherries are much easier to pit but do this outside in old clothes. Once pit, you can freeze the cherries, can them or dry them. It was so hot this past week that the thought of spending a couple of hours over a hot, steamy stove made me feel faint. So we froze most of the cherries. We did dry some of the pie cherries and I really liked how they turned out. I think they'll be amazing in muffins and recipes this fall. We use a dehydrator - it gets rather humid here so this is the easiest way to dry stuff for us. We dried several pie cherries plain and they're tasty. Very tart but still good. The other recipe was more like the Craisins you buy in the store. We're going to pick a few more pounds next week to dry this way.
2 cups pitted pie cherries
1/2 cup sugar
Combine in saucepan and let sit for ten minutes. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain and dry cherries.
Do NOT throw the leftover cherry juice out. It makes the most amazing cherry limeades ever - we froze it ice cube trays to use later this summer. I also plan to experiment with the amounts of sugar. I think we could use a little bit more in the recipe.
I am now so in love with pie cherries that I'm going to figure out a way to put one in on my city lot. Cherry juice is so amazingly wonderful but it gets a little pricey when it's made from cherries that are $2 a pound!
We froze the rest for canning later. I plan on making several different kinds of jams and there's a chutney recipe that looks yummy.