Tart Cherries, My Cookbook.

tart cherries

During the last month of my pregnancy, I was obsessed with the idea of tart cherries.  As I mentioned before, last year was a wash for finding any and I was hungrier than ever to find some.  Just after my new addition, I got several pounds of fruit from neighbors, and just last week I had the opportunity to buy a bulk quantity of Door County tart cherries as I did two years ago from Cherryland's Best.  Perhaps the best thing about buying a pail of tart cherries from them is that they are already pitted, and swimming in their own juice.  I appreciated that extra bit of work was already done, especially since it seems that whenever I try to tackle something that could require some attention, one very small, fairly new human being seems to need my undivided attention.  And I am the mama who will stop everything to oblige.

Fortunately, the day of the cherry drop off I was blessed with a sleepy boy who napped away the afternoon as I worked my way through the 27 lb. pail.  I broke 2 quarts in my haste of getting the quarts of whole cherries into the hot water bath (but to my defense, those cherries were chilly!), but somehow I was also blessed with both the patience to clean up my mess of epic proportions and the perseverance to continue on to the bottom of the pail.

That day yielded 6 quarts canned in extra light syrup, and one small and very sweet batch of a Black Forest sauce I found in the Ball Preserving book and added some almond extract to.  It is going to be very good on some chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream.  It didn't really gel up like I expected, but it is great as a medium thick sauce with chocolate and unsweetened coconut, and some of the cherry brandy that I made last month with neighborhood cherries.

I started to turn 2 lbs. into drinking vinegar, which when mixed with selzer water is my favorite cocktail these days.  It is sweetened with the same sugar I'm trying to reduce my consumption of, but I make concessions for it because I'm not drinking kombucha right now - and the vinegar fools me well enough.  Vinegar is also a detoxifying agent, but I suspect not in the same way as kombucha (let me know if you know otherwise)...  It appears I do crave some fizzy drink with tart/sour kick almost every afternoon.  At least it is something I've made myself.

tart cherries, vinegar.

soaking in vinegar.

To make tart cherry drinking vinegar (or any fruit flavored vinegar), I combine the ratio of 1 lb. fruit to 1 cup raw cider vinegar (Bragg's).  Let it steep for 5-7 days, strain it, then measure the liquid.  For every cup of strained vinegar, add 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar depending on taste.  I heat it very gently so the sugar dissolves, but well below the temperature of pasteurizing the raw vinegar, then cool and store in re-purposed glass bottles.

I cheated somewhat and froze the remaining cherries in 1 1/2 lb. bags with some of their juice.  I then tucked the remaining near-quart of cherry juice in the fridge - with the consideration of making cherry jelly, but then noble declination when I'd realized I'd already exceeded the number of jars of sweet preserves I want on my shelf this year.  I'll just drink it, or maybe freeze it in ice cube trays to keep other drinks cold and pink.


I spent the weekend out at my Parents farm, both boys and husband in tow.  Just before I left the city, the day of the cherry drop off in fact, I got the first copy of my cookbook in the mail.  It hit me as being real - that I wrote and photographed a book that was actually going to be for sale.  And even better was the feeling that came when we found my name on Amazon, and I found out my husband was checking it twice a day every day since, checking up on my "rating" which is in the hundreds of thousands, but it doesn't matter because him being so proud of me is the best feeling ever.

the cover.

The book is a small thing, almost pocket sized, but very readable with some of my most favorite concoctions in it.  Some are recipes that have appeared on my blog, but some are new things I developed especially for the book.  I was happy to also include several lacto-fermented recipes, like this Cilantro-Raisin Chutney which could be my favorite thing ever.  Or one of my favorites, anyway.

It will likely be available in September, but is already available for preorder on Amazon.  I will also have copies for sale on my site, or you can order directly from the publisher, Peter Pauper Press. I will update this site and the CakeWalk Facebook page when I know more!

As I hold that little book in my hands, I keep thinking that if I never had kids I wouldn't be looking at it.  I may still be working 60 hours a week somewhere, having never discovered the mysteries of sourdough, bubbly ferments, long cooking slow food.  I might never have owned the preservationist title, and instead rested on the laurels of my Mom and Gram rather than embracing the lifestyle I now have:  one of hard work at home that was definitely inspired by them and their love of taking care of family.  

Those little boys that entered my world, they made so many things crystal clear for me, but there is more to come that is still hazy.  Where I'm heading next with an infant in tow, I do not know.  It's a good feeling to provide for them in tangible ways, and what an amazing feeling to write things into existence that I hope people use and are inspired by!