Cheers for Cherries

It’s officially cherry season in the U.S and while they are so special they may seem like a treat, cherries are a delicious way to rack up your fruit servings! Ranking high on the antioxidant scale, cherries pack a powerful nutrient punch! With such a small growing season it’s essential to preserve these jewels at their peak of freshness. Stock up today at your local supermarket, and follow these simple steps to enjoy them year round.

Can – Select firm, ripe sweet cherries. Rinse, drain and remove stems and pits, if desired. Pack cherries into clean hot canning jars and cover with medium-hot syrup (1-1/2 cups sugar to 2 cups water), leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Seal jar according to manufacturer’s directions. Place jars on rack in canner. Process 25 minutes for pints and quarts in boiling water bath with boiling water two inches above jar tops. Remove jars from water bath. Cool away from drafts. Remove rings from sealed jars after 12 hours.

 

Dry – Select firm, ripe fresh sweet cherries. Wash, cut in half, and remove stems and pits. Place cherries, skin side down, in single layers trays. Dry cherries at 140F for 6 to 12 hours, being careful not to over-dry; cherries should be leathery and slightly sticky when properly dried. To store, place in small plastic bags, seal and keep in dark, dry, cool place. Dried cherries are a great in recipes and as a snack.

 

Freeze – Work with small amounts of fresh sweet cherries to allow for quick handling and freezing. Select firm, ripe sweet cherries. Rinse and drain cherries thoroughly. Pack according to preferred method and freeze immediately

Step 1: Rinse firm, ripe cherries in cold water; drain thoroughly.
Step 2: Pack cherries in a plastic freezer bags of freezer-proof containers. Remove excess air; fasten or cover tightly.
Step 3: Freeze.

 General Freezing Tips:

  • Before freezing, label and date each plastic bag or container.
  • Freezer should be 0°F, or lower.
  • For fastest freezing, place bags directly on freezer shelves. Leave space around each bag until contents are frozen.

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 BONUS RECIPE – Cherry Stuffed Grilled Chicken

Serves 4

 1 cup fresh sweet cherries pits removed and coarsely chopped

½ onion, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

½ tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

Pinch of salt

4 chicken breasts, boned and skinned

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 clove of crushed garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

  • Combine the cherries, onion, sage, thyme and salt and mix well. Cut a pocket on the thicker sides of the chicken breasts and stuff with the cherry mixture. Use metal skewers or cocktail sticks to close and seal the opening.
  • Combine the oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper with a pinch of salt and mix well to make the marinade. Use this to marinate the prepared chicken breasts and chill for an hour.
  • Either grill by conventional method or griddle the chicken breasts brushing with the marinade and turning until cooked through and the juices run clear.

The chicken breasts can also be cooked in the oven: Brown first on both sides in an oven safe pan then bake at 375 F, 190 C, gas mark 5 for 12 – 15 minutes or until the juices run clear.

*Nutritional Analysis Per Serving: 305 Calories, 32.4 g protein, 11.5 g carbohydrate, 14.3 g fat (42% Cal. from fat), 86 mg cholesterol, 1.1 g fiber, 1130 mg sodium.

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