Thursday, August 7, 2003

Quaint food technique of the day

Three weeks ago, we went where we have never gone before: the world of canning. And we took the pitted cherries with us.

We were heartened, though, by last year's pickling successes and went boldly forward. The usual thing would have been to make jam but why do the usual thing when you can make brandied cherries? Cooking with alcohol is always more of an adventure.

Bring 0.5 cup sugar, 0.5 cup water, and 0.25 cup of lemon juice to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
Add 3 lbs. of pitted cherries (I had only 1 lb, but went ahead anyway) and simmer 'til heated through.
Remove from heat and stir in 0.75 cup of brandy (or more ... or much more ... or much, much more, if you're Foodgoat).

Then came the mysterious canning part. We used small half-pint size jars, because they were the only size that fit in our pot. We sterilized them in boiling water, filled 4 of them up with cherries and the syrup, leaving 0.25" headspace, stirred to release air bubbles, and topped them off with the nifty two piece caps they come with. Using the handy-dandy jar lifter (the only special canning tool we got) we dropped them onto a metal steaming basket on the bottom of our biggest pot of boiling water. After ten minutes, we fished them out and let them cool for several hours. We made sure everything was vacuum sealed, and stowed them away in the back of the cabinet.

It seemed too simple. I checked them every day for mold or some rapidly evolving life form.

After a couple of weeks we decided the cherries had sat long enough. We made a chocolate cake (see the secret recipe), opened up a jar, and put the two together.

Powerful stuff, let me tell you. Not very sweet at all. But no moldy taste or alien eyeballs. I'm amazed: the first Foodgoat canning experiment worked!

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