Okay, so Cherry Queen is a misnomer. As a resident of “The Cherry Capital of the World”, perhaps I should be the Cherry Queen but I don’t love cherries. My husband who has always lived in Traverse City doesn’t really even like cherries. My son doesn’t like cherry pie. My daughter likes cherries and I enjoy fresh cherries, but I am definitely not the Cherry Queen.
Despite my cherry aversion, I’ve been wanting to make cherry freezer jam for a while and apparently, today was the day. On my sojourn this morning to the Farmers’ Market, I couldn’t resist two quarts of tart cherries. Today was a busy day for us at the market. In addition to the two quarts of cherries, we came home with three quarts of plums, a lug of canning tomatoes, a quart of salad tomatoes, a quart of sauce tomatoes, two peppers, two onions, a head of garlic, a pint of creamed honey and a pint of blueberries. I think I’m going to be busy today.
Of course, I didn’t bring the wagon with me this morning and the three overflowing bags of produce were quite a lot to trudge home with. You’d think with two children helping it would have been a lot easier but neither of them could carry very much for very long. So when I finally got the bags home I set them down and began working on the mounds of produce in front of me.
As you’d expect from the title of today’s post, cherries were first on the docket. As I don’t have a cherry pitter (because I am not the Cherry Queen), I started pitting the cherries with a knife. The pitting was going smoothly, but pitting cherries is a very, very tedious job. So as I sat there pitting the cherries I started devising alternate ways of pitting them. About a pint into the job I came up with an ingenious plan. Years ago my husband bought me this nifty gadget for Christmas. You may have heard of it? It’s a Juiceman Jr. The kids love that they can juice carrots, beets, apples, lemons or whatever else they can think of. I love the juice and the fact that they’ll drink beets because they are pretty even if they won’t eat them, but hate the cleanup so I don’t drag it out often. However, I decided that the cleanup was warranted in this instance if it would save me an hour of cherry-pitting by hand.
So I dragged out the juicer and filled the hopper with washed tart cherries and turned the machine on. Cherries, pits and bits of skin began popping out the top. This must be why they include the food pusher; it serves as a lid to keep food from jumping at you. Once I figured out how to keep the cherries in the machine I decided the juicer was a good idea. I used the juicer to finish the remaining cherries and added the juice to the two cups of cherries I had already pitted and mashed.
A friend who recently finished her own batch of chery jam suggested that I make uncooked freezer jam instead of the long-cooking canned variety to keep the jam from turning brown. I decided I liked the idea of red cherry jam as opposed to brown and proceeded with the pectin-based freezer jam.