Friday, February 1, 2008

Bing Cherry Sauce Makes Everything OK

When we lived in Banning, a small crummy town two hours' drive east of LA, my mother loved to go to Cherry Valley when the cherries were ripe. The window for the picking season was only a couple of weeks. The cherries had to be picked quickly before the birds pecked them apart or a freeze made them inedible. After the trees had been picked by the farmer and the crop sent to the markets, for $5.00, you were given a bucket and a ladder and sent into the rows of trees to pick whatever was left, which was a lot. My memory was that you had a time limit for your $5.00. An hour, I think, to pick all you could, and, of course, to eat 'till you were sick of cherries.

Maybe it's that memories are often better than reality, but since then I've only had fresh cherries that tasted that good a couple of times. Fat, dark red Bing cherries, warm from the sun, sweet, juicy--they were the best.

Bing cherries make great sauce. Without the sugar, they make a savory sauce with roast pork or duck. With sugar, the way I like them, they're delicious on ice cream, yogurt, or even a slice of a quality cheddar, like Neal's Yard.

2 cups Bing cherries, washed, halved, pitted
1 cup water
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Put everything into a small saucepan and simmer on a low flame for 45-60 minutes, stirring frequently. After 30 minutes, taste and adjust the flavor if not sweet enough by adding a sprinkling of raw sugar. The liquid part of the sauce should thicken as it reduces.

Makes ½ pint. Serves 6.

If you do go cherry picking or find yourself with a bucket of cherries, after you've eaten your fill, try canning them so you have them in the off-season. All you need are Ball or Kerr glass canning jars and lids. Submerge the jars in boiling water for 30 minutes, remove, empty out the water, then fill to 1" below the rim on the top of the jar. Put the lids into the boiling water for 30 seconds to soften the rubber, then seal the jars snuggly not super tight. Put the filled, sealed jars back into the boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove, cool, dry, and store in a cupboard. In the winter, a jar of cherry sauce is the perfect treat and it makes a great gift for someone you really like.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes. Cooking Time: 45-60 minutes.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the recipe. I just picked a large bunch of cherries at Wolgemuth's farm in Beaumont. I look forward to cherry season every year. :-)

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