Those sweet sour cherries


We got our first look at the farm last Monday tromping through 18 inches of snow covered field. When
Dr. Markhart explained the previous year’s layout and crops, I was very excited to learn of the sour
cherry trees on the farm. My father, back in Iowa, has a cherry tree
that he loves and every summer
is dripping with cherries. Every cherry that my dad picks is for the sole purpose of making cherry pie.
Actually, I think his only reason for planting the tree in the first place was for cherry pie. He makes a
pie every time his girls (my three sisters and I) come home and makes sure to tell us each time that
it’s “organic,” then invariably asks how much an organic cherry pie would sell for in Minneapolis. This is his jab at me for prices I pay for organic, local foods for my own cooking endeavors. The funny thing is - he created this monster.

My father owned a greenhouse for years and only sold it to have more time to spend with his family a
few years after his youngest daughter, me, was born. While the business was his first love and his first
job, he worked late nights, every weekend and every holiday preparing and delivering orders. Although he will never admit it, I think he regretted this decision every day he went to work as a janitor for the 30 years. As soon as my dad decided to retire, he built a small greenhouse in his backyard. He starts his own seed each spring and grows beautiful lettuce 8 months of the year. In the summer, hisgarden is thick with asparagus, peas, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, melons, etc., all grown free of pesticide and herbicides. And of course, there is the cherry tree.

Although it’s no cherry pie, here is my favorite recipe for cherry chutney. It’s tart yet savory and
delicious served over cream cheese on crackers.

Simply Delicious Cherry Chutney
Adapted from: Complete Book of Home Preserving

4 ½ tsp. of whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick (about 6”), broken
10 cups of red tart cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 ½ cups finely chopped red or other sweet onion
1 cup white vinegar
2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
1 cup of lightly packed brown sugar

Tie the spices (cinnamon and allspice) is a piece of cheesecloth creating a spice bag.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine cherries, apple, onions, vinegar, garlic, salt and the spice
bag. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil hard, stirring frequently for 20 minutes. Add the
brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Reduce the heat and boil gently, still stirring frequently, until thick
enough to mound on a spoon, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the spice bag.

Meanwhile, prepare a canner, jars and lids.

Ladle the hot chutney into hot jars, leaving a ½ inch headspace. Remove bubbles and wipe the rim.
Center the lids on the jars and screw on bands until fingertip-tight.

Place jars in a canner, covering completely with water. Bring water to a boil and process 10 minutes.
Remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Makes approximately 6-8 ounce jars.

Elizabeth Thompson
 

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