Two weeks ago the harvests converged to make the perfect processing storm. Earlier in the season, I ordered 20 lbs of NJ blueberries and 18 lbs of cherries. Later I would be sweetly surprised with an additional order of 18 lbs of cherries and 20 lbs of apricots. Giddy with anticipation, I scoured my recipes and planned all the goodies I would make.
Little did I know that everything would come in at the same time! Within a period of seven days, I was a processing fool. There’s nothing better than working eight hours, only to come home and make jam. Or spending an entire day pitting cherries with a hand pitter (my nails are still stained).
Oh but the goodies I made! Blueberry pie filling; blueberries in the family rum; blueberry jam; frozen blueberries; brandied cherries; cherry butter; dried cherries; frozen cherries; apricot jam; apricot nectar and dried apricots.
Below is an adapted recipe Cousin Lori found posted by Local Kitchen.
Crock-Pot Cherry Butter
- 6 lbs sweet cherries
- 1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Wash & stem cherries. Then EITHER pit all of the cherries, OR use unpitted cherries and proceed as follows. Combine cherries, 1 cup sugar, water and vinegar in the Crock-Pot. Cook on HIGH until cherries are very soft and easily mashed with a food mill or potato masher, about 2 hours. If you’ve used pitted cherries, proceed to Step 2. Using a potato masher, mash cherries in the Crock-Pot vessel, then strain through a large-mesh colander (I used the pasta basket from my stockpot. I think my grill basket may have worked in a pinch.). If you don’t have a large-mesh colander or basket, you might try a food mill (the pits got stuck under mine and it would not turn). Return the strained cherry pulp to the Crock-Pot.
- Reduce heat to LOW, stir cherries + juice and prop one edge of the lid open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Stir occassionally, keeping an eye on the heat (lower to WARM if necessary) until volume has reduced to approximately 1/4 of the original, about 8 hours in my Crock-Pot. Blend with an immersion blender or or transfer to blender/food processor: return to Crock-Pot if needed and continue to reduce until desired thickness: butter should mound on the back of a spoon, and be the thickness of a thin commercial ketchup.
- Prepare canner, lids and jars.
- Scrape cherry butter mixture into a large, wide-bottomed preserving pot. Taste and adjust flavorings (I added the last 1/4 cup of brown sugar and lemon juice here). Bring to a simmer over low heat, using a splatter guard if possible. Simmer about 5 minutes, until heated through and well blended. Fill hots jars with hot butter to 1/2-inch head space, making sure to bubble jars thoroughly. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.