Savoring the Seasons: Much ado about cherries

  • Pickled cherries made with tart cherries from Clarkdale Fruit Farm. Courtesy Diane Sievers

  • Mary McClintock

For The Recorder
Published: 7/4/2017 10:20:17 AM

What would you do with a quart of local cherries? That’s the question I asked several friends after I got tart cherries and sweet cherries from Clarkdale Fruit Farm’s stand at the Greenfield Farmers Market last Saturday. I got many answers, some expected, some unexpected, all tasty.

When I asked my friend, Diane Sievers, the first thing she said was, “Pickle them!” I’d never heard of pickled cherries, but she told me that when she was growing up in Iowa, they had pickled cherries on the relish tray with the pimento olives and stuffed celery on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She shared her mother’s pickled cherry recipe and a photo of pickled cherries in jars.

With Clarkdale tart cherries, Diane planned to pickle two pints for holiday use, freeze some to make pies in the winter, dehydrate some to add to oatmeal or granola in winter, make cherry jam and make a fresh pie or tart to enjoy now. For freezing, she pits the cherries and spreads them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, she puts them in bags and uses the food saver vacuum machine to package them for long-term storage in the freezer.

Later on Saturday, when I asked Mary Siano at the Greenfield Weekly Peace Vigil what she’d do with cherries, she said, “Eat them! Share them!” Great minds think alike — that’s what I do.

On Saturday evening, I chatted with my friend Marie Summerwood from Syracuse. She said, “I’d eat them, make pie, make jam or make vinegar.”

Vinegar? I never thought of making cherry vinegar. Marie said she makes vinegar with black cherries, but any variety of sweet cherry will do. She said, “Fill any size jar with pitted cherries. Pour pasteurized apple cider vinegar to cover, go back the next day and top off. Cover, label, date. Wait 8 weeks. It’s great for marinades and salad dressings. I pit them so the vinegared cherries can be used easily.”

Mark your calendar, because Clarkdale will have Rainier sweets and Montmorency tarts at the Saturday, July 8, Greenfield Farmers Market held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Greenfield Town Common/Court Square. Go early, because they sell out quickly. Clarkdale now accepts SNAP EBT payments for their fruit. At the farmers market, Clarkdale, Rainbow Harvest Farm and Just Roots participate in the HIP program, where SNAP dollars spent on produce result in credits back to the user’s account — essentially doubling the value.

While marking your calendar, check out the Food/Farms information section for the dates of the Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive and the Free Harvest Supper. Justin Costa from the Franklin County Hunger Task Force told me that they’re reaching out to community businesses, organizations and communities of faith to organize internal food and/or fund drives for the Belly Bus.

I’m THRILLED that Kirsten Levitt and Willow Ross from Stone Soup Café, along with many other community members, are busy organizing the Free Harvest Supper of Locally Grown Food. I hope you’ll help out with both the Belly Bus and the Free Harvest Supper.

This week we’re preserving ...

Pickled Cherries

By Diane Sievers of South Deerfield

For two pints of pickled tart cherries:

Combine 2 T. salt, 4 T. sugar, 1 C. vinegar and 1 C. water in a small saucepan and heat to dissolve. Wash cherries, clean stems (leave on) by removing brown blossoms. Pack jars with cherries. If two cherries are on one stem, just leave them — don’t separate. Divide 1 quart of washed tart cherries into two sterilized pint jars. Pour liquid mixture over cherries, place lids on and seal jars. Do not cook or process in a water bath. If lids seal, you can store them in a dark place, otherwise store in refrigerator. These are best after a few months in the jar so that the cherries have time to pickle. My cousin said they have to sit for at least 6 weeks.


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