Using Up Food Scraps: Cherry Pit Vinegar #CanItForward

I've been canning for years, but until recently I hadn't given much though to the peels and pits from my yearly harvest. When I was done with whatever project I was working on I tossed all my scraps in the compost and moved on. It wasn't until I was reading through Alice Water's latest book My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own that I even realized I could turn these leftover bits and pieces into something else.

After a marathon canning session in which I made cherry vanilla applesauce, Cherry Liqueur, and Cherry Almond Preserves I have no shortage of cherry pits to work with which is why my first project ended up being cherry pit vinegar. It's a flexible pantry staple that can be used to create a flavorful vinaigrette, but has a multitude of other uses. Plus, if you're looking for DIY gifts for the holiday season it's festive red color makes it an excellent choice.

Don't forget to check out the rest of our canning section for more great recipes.

Using Up Food Scraps: Cherry Pit Vinegar | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Pit Vinegar

 

Ingredients


cherry pits, whole
apple cider vinegar or other vinegar of your choice
 

Directions
 

 

  • Place cherry pits and excess juice in a sterilized glass jar, add enough vinegar so the pits are completely submerged, then cover. Allow the mixture to sit for at least a week in a dark place, taking care to shake the jar occasionally. If you notice your pits have floated to the top, don't worry, it's all a part of the process.

  • After seven days removed the pits and strain the vinegar through a piece of cheese cloth to remove any solids. Store the cherry vinegar in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place.

Notes


While the acidic nature of vinegar generally prevents harmful bacteria such as botulism from growing it is still best to properly sterilize any equipment you'll be using for this project so other forms of bacteria aren't introduced.

It's not a well known fact, but stone fruit seeds do contain small amounts of cyanide. This is why it's important you only use uncracked pits, so the seed inside does not come into contact with the vinegar. If you're concerned that the cyanide may leach into the vinegar you can always use pitted cherries to flavor your vinegar.

Cherry Liqueur + Book Review: Unearthed by Alexandra Risen #UnearthedParty #canitforward

Today we're participating in the Unearthed Blog Party to celebrate the release of Alexandra Risen's new memoir Unearthed: How an Abandoned Garden Taught Me to Accept and Love My Parents. We'll be sharing a brief review of the book as well as one of the recipes the author shares at the end of each chapter.

Since Friday July 22nd is International Can It Forward Day I thought we'd tackle the recipe for Sour Cherry Liqueur found in one of the early chapters. It technically doesn't require any canning, but it does use a half-gallon Mason Jar—besides, any recipe that starts off with a combination of cherries and vodka is bound to be amazing. It's a shame I'll have to wait so long for the first taste, patience has never been my strong suit.

Recipe excerpted from UNEARTHED, © 2016 by Alexandra Risen. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.   DISCLOSURE: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher, as always all opinions are my own.

Recipe excerpted from UNEARTHED, © 2016 by Alexandra Risen. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. DISCLOSURE: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher, as always all opinions are my own.

Sour Cherry Liqueur


 

Ingredients


1 pound fresh sour cherries, stems and pits removed (see notes)
3 cups vodka or grain alcohol (80 proof) 
1½ cups sugar

Directions

  • Clean and pit cherries and add to a 2-quart Mason jar or other glass or ceramic container. Add Vodka and mix thoroughly. Cover. Let macerate for 4 weeks at room temperature. Stir daily for the first week, weekly afterward, with a wooden or non-metal spoon.
  • After 4 weeks, add sugar, stir thoroughly, and cover. Let macerate for another 4 weeks. Strain the vodka mixture through a stainless steel strainer into a large bowl. Gather the remaining cherry pulp into cheese cloth and squeeze out liquid into same bowl. 
  • Pour liquid back into Mason jar, close, and age in a cool place for three to four months.
  • Siphon off the clear liqueur, leaving sludge behind in jar, or filter liquid through paper towels and then coffee filters (twice each) to clarify. Store in clean sterilized bottles.

Notes


The recipe in the book calls for sour cherries, but I used the last of mine making another batch of Sour Cherry Almond Preserves (we may have worked our way through 4 jars in less than a month, it's really addictive.) Although the author doesn't mention this, sweet cherries produce a wonderful liqueur as well. If you can't find sour cherries feel free to substitute, but you may want to consider cutting back on the sugar just a little bit to compensate.

If you want another fun project to try, save your cherry pits and make a small batch of Cherry Infused Vinegar (recipe coming soon) It's absolutely fabulous in salad dressing!

Don't want to purchase an entire case of Mason Jars? I don't blame you, which is why I double checked: both Hobby Lobby and Michaels sell the half-gallon jars individually. I picked one up last week at Michaels for around $3 after using the in-ad coupon.

For anyone who is wondering, I opted to use Svekda, a mid-range priced vodka. Feel free to choose your favorite, as long as it's 80 proof, but for the best flavor try to avoid any of the bottom-shelf brands.

Review


I'm not sure if I've ever read a memoir before, my reading habits tend to lean more toward vampires, sci-fi, time travel, or the occasional cozy mystery—but Unearthed caught my eye because I saw a lot of parallels between the author's family and my paternal grandparents. They weren't immigrants, but they both grew up in a children's home during the depression and post WWII age. It was a time in their lives they were reluctant to discuss with us and as the years went on we learned it was a topic better left alone. It wasn't until after my grandfather passed away and my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease that we really began to learn the circumstances surrounding their childhood. The pieces we put together are heartbreaking, so it's no wonder my grandparents preferred to leave the past behind.

This is where the similarities between my family and the author's really begin to diverge. Alexandra's mother was often distant and her father remained not only silent on the matter of the past and his life in Ukraine before immigrating, but rarely spoke to her at all. She grew up finding it difficult to understand either of her parents and was often resentful of how different her older sister's relationship was with them. It isn't until after her father's death that she comes to terms with her feelings and is able to shine some light on the brutal past that helped shape her parents into the people she knew.

It all begins with an abandoned garden set on a piece of property butting up to a ravine, much like her childhood home. For Alexandra it's love at first sight and she is determined to restore the garden to its former glory. Every new project she tackles, whether it's clearing the overgrowth of the property, foraging for edibles and sharing the experience with her son (much as her parents did with her in their own garden) or rebuilding the mysterious pagoda found at the heart of the garden, reminds her of the past and brings her once step closer to understanding her parents. The book weaves these events together perfectly and it's through this massive garden restoration the author is better able to connect with her parents, accept herself for who she really is, and finally let go of some of the old hurts still haunting her from the past.

 

Disclosure

 

 

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

This book was sent to me for review by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as always, all opinions are my own.

Cherry Almond Preserves with No Added Pectin

Cherry season is incredibly short—lasting only a matter of days—so I'll often find myself with gallon bags full of sour pie cherries that need to be pitted, washed, and processed in a short amount of time. Some years it can be a daunting task to turn all of these beauties into something delicious, so I've worked hard to develop a lazy person's recipe for preserves that has a great consistency, yet doesn't need any special equipment or added pectin. Just a small handful of ingredients and a little bit of time is all you need to produce a tasty preserve that can be put up and enjoyed over winter or eaten immediately on a slice of crusty bread slathered in butter. 

Cherry Almond Preserves with No Added Pectin | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Almond Preserves

(makes 1 pint or 2 half pints)
 


 

Ingredients


3 cups sour cherries (or slightly less than 1 pound)
1 cup sugar + additional ¼ - ½ cup, as necessary
1 Tablespoon pure almond extract
 

Directions

  • Remove the pits from the cherries, add them to a large saucepan, and combine with 1 cup sugar. Let sit for at least twenty minutes while the cherries macerate, or release their juices.
  • Over medium-high heat bring the contents of the pot to a boil and allow to cook until the mixture has reduced roughly by ⅓. Take a quick taste and if the preserves still make you pucker add an additional ¼ cup of sugar, or more to taste.

You can leave a wooden spoon in your pot or pan while your preserves are cooking to prevent them from boiling over.

  • Add almond extract, then continue to boil the preserves taking care to stir frequently, until the contents of the pot have begun to thicken. 

Total cooking time varies greatly depending on the size of you pot (anywhere from 20 - 45 minutes) so you'll need to keep a close eye on your preserves while they're cooking.

  • There are a number of methods you can use to tell when your preserves are done cooking. By far the easiest is to take a spoon, dip it in the preserves, and let the liquid run off the spoon. If it immediately drips back in to the pot, you need to keep cooking, but if it puddles at the tip and drips off in a heavy sheet, your safe to turn the heat off. If you're still not quite sure they're done, you can remove your preserves from the heat, place a small amount of syrup on a plate and put it in the fridge to chill. It should form a gel after a few minutes, if it doesn't turn the heat back up and continue boiling your preserves.

It is possible to burn your preserves, so if you're still uncertain after performing these two tests, go ahead and turn off the heat. If your preserves fail to gel after cooling you can always use them on top of a fat stack of pancakes.

  • Allow the preserves to cool slightly before transferring them into a pint jar. Wipe the rim clean, seal, and once cool store in the refrigerator.

Notes


You can use a cherry pitter if you have one, but for small batches of cherries a paperclip, chopstick, or even your hands work just as well. Keep in mind that pitting cherries is a messy process, so wear something dark colored or a shirt you don't mind getting stained.

It's perfectly normal for the preserves to foam while boiling, once they're removed from the heat you'll find the foam dissipates relatively quickly, so there is no need to skim it off the top.

This recipe is safe to can using a water bath, but for such a small batch I don't normally bother. If you'd like to make more than a pint and put some up for later you can use the canning instructions I've included with our recipe for Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves.