By Heather Roszczyk, market assistant
Several months ago, we got some new neighbors. We already thought they were fantastic, but they sealed the deal when they came over bearing the last of their precious cherry bounce, with tiny glasses for sharing. Excitedly (we’d heard rumors and vague promises of this stuff from them for months) we divided up the ruby-colored liquid. I took a sip and…my goodness. It was all the best things about fresh cherries and cherry pie and cherry jam, all rolled up into a satiny smooth sipping drink.
The joy of food preservation – be it with alcohol, drying, canning, or freezing – is that it allows you to carry the heady delights of one season into another. You can taste garden-fresh tomatoes in your winter sauces and stews, enjoy a peach pie in January. For many, however, what was second nature to our grandparents feels cumbersome and intimidating today. How long do I boil the jars? How do I know if the lids are sealed properly? How do I make sure I don’t kill myself and my family with deadly bacteria and/or an exploding pressure canner? While death by canning is pretty rare, it is important to learn basic safety tips before you begin.
As you may have heard, Countryside Conservancy recently won a grant from Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball Brand Fresh Preserving Products. One of only 30 markets participating in the Discover You Can program nationwide, we’ll be holding a series of canning demonstrations throughout the summer, designed to help beginners get their feet wet. If you joined us at the Highland Square market a couple weeks ago, you saw the first of these demonstrations as our resident market manager, Beth Knorr, and her lovely daughter showed us how to turn those gorgeous Ohio strawberries into sweet homemade jam.
While I’ve dabbled in jam and jelly making and tomato sauce canning, there are some things that I’m hoping to learn myself this summer. Like how to can a crunchy pickle. (And I mean a shelf-stable one – this girl likes her pickles year-round, and there just isn’t that much room in the refrigerator.) But we’d love to hear from you – what canning demonstration do you want to see? Is there a specific vegetable that you’re yearning to can? A fruit you desperately want to preserve? Tell us, so that we can make these demonstrations as enjoyable and useful as possible. (And by all means – if you know the secret to canning a crunchy pickle, leave a comment so that we can sign you up for a demo!) In the meantime, with sour cherries just around the corner, whip up a batch of bounce and introduce yourself to the neighbors.
While our neighbors’ recipe for Cherry Bounce uses vodka, I’ve now seen other recipes that call for bourbon. I’ve decided that I should try both this year…you know, for science.
1/2 pound sugar cubes (about 1 cup)
1 qt. sour cherries, stems removed
1 bottle (750 ml) vodka
Place sugar and cherries in sterilized 2 qt. glass container with tight-fitting lid. Pour vodka over sugar and cherries; shake. Store covered in cool dark place, shaking once a day for one week and then once a week for two months. Strain vodka; discard cherries. Let stand two hours. Pour clear liquor into sterilized jars, being careful not to disturb sediment.
Makes about 3 cups.