Why did noone ever tell me how easy bread-and-butter pickles are?
Inspired by a seriously simple New York Times recipe I put together a sweet sour batch in not much more than the time it took to bring sour cherries up to boil (see below), and we’ve already eaten almost half the jar. This is an eat-now pickle rather than a can-and-keep one, which makes it faster, but I was flabbergasted at how easy it is. Slice cucumbers, salt them, and leave them sitting on the kitchen counter (the recipe said the fridge, but the fridge was full) while you go off to the store. When that’s done, boil up some vinegar, sugar and spices, pour over the (drained) cukes and wait an hour or so before you eat them. My only changes: adding mustard seeds because I wanted more of a kick, and substituting chive blossom vinegar because I made it when the chive blossoms were out and needed something to use it in. I forgot to add the dill.
Very pretty, very tasty. They won’t last long.
Then it was on to sour cherries, which always make incredibly fleeting performances in the farmers’ market at around this time of year. I bought a quart, which came out as a mere 3-1/2 cups of stoned cherries. There wasn’t going to be much jam.
Looking for inspiration, I seized on the recipe book I used for one of the raspberry jams last week because it was the only one I could find that didn’t add bought pectin. It used pectin-filled Granny Smith apples instead, and that added a little bulk as well. I cut the apples, increased the lemon juice, and had a jam about 20 minutes from starting the stove.
Sour cherry vanilla jam (based on Madelaine Bullwinkle’s Gourmet Preserves)
3-1/2 cups pitted sour cherries
2 cups chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Simmer apples and cherries for 15 minutes until they are soft. The recipe said to chop them in a food processor ahead of time, but I like my jams with chunks, so I just used a potato masher to squish the fruits down a little as they simmered.
Add vanilla, and then the sugar (in 3-4 parts), bringing back to a simmer between each lot of sugar and making sure one batch has dissolved before adding the next one.
Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes until it sets. Again, the recipe said 10 minutes, but that was clearly far too long.
It looks good, it tastes good. Very, very tart. It made three jars.