Notes from Windward: #65

Bush Cherry Jam

Somewhere between cherry and plum

     Making cherry preserves ........

Hansen bush cherries
all the fruit without the ladder

     Four one-gallon bags of the 2004 crop of cherries from our Hansen Cherry bushes remained in the freezer and a new crop is on the way along with plums, raspberries and apples. Now is the time to clear out some freezer space. The crew decided to turn the frozen cherries into preserves. We were not looking forward to pitting them, however, as the fruit has a small meat to pit ratio.

     While we were reviewing recipes, Brittany discovered that the skins were thin enough for us to sieve the cherries raw. Ultimately, we mashed the fruit through Marc's new large holed 'Chinese hat', picked the pits out of the remaining skins and combined the skins with the mashed fruit. This gave us enough for almost four batches of preserves - just what we needed to use up the low sugar Sure Jell left over from last year.

     We decided that the fruit was too tart for the no sugar recipe and ended up by combining three cups of sugar with four cups of processed cherries. Our yield was 14 pints of jam with some left over for tasting. The jam has an interesting flavor, sort of like Dr. Pepper. It's not as sweet as commercial products, which we think is a good thing. It's just right for toast, sandwiches and sweetening tea Russian style.

[Walt: Windward's located in an area that's rich in fruit; thirty miles to the west of us is the world's largest An Jou pear orchard, the hills surrounding The Dalles are carpeted with Bing cherry trees, and the beach at Maryhill is so completely surrounded by peach trees that it's known locally as "Peach Beach." Consequently, there's no shortage of packing-shed seconds to turn into jams for spreading on pancakes or home-made biscuits.

      And so, when we look at planting some sort of fruit-bearing tree here, we go for the contrarian option and plant something which will provide us with a type of fruit that wouldn't otherwise be available. I'd seen entire hedges of bush cherries just covered in chest-level fruit at the Portland arboretum, and so when the Gurney catalog offered Hansen bush cherries, we decided to give them a try.

     The Hansens quickly established themselves and gave us a partial crop the second year - the fruit described above - and they look to produce even more this year. Now that we know that this variety will prosper here, it's time to think about moving them out of the berry nursery, and establishing a larger planting.]

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 65