Cherry Almond Pie Filling + Canning Instructions

For the past few months my mother and I have been worried about our yearly cherry harvest. We had an unusually warm winter which caused our lone tree to bloom several weeks early. There was a real risk that the last frost would damage the buds, leaving us with next to nothing worth harvesting. The few years we've gone without cherries have been absolutely heartbreaking, especially once winter rolls around and the realization sets in that there will be no cherry pies, cobblers, or syrup to get us through the cold weather.

Those winters are indeed bleak.

The good news is that the weather continued to stay warm, but that meant I ended up with a series of frantic text messages, complete with photos, letting me know that if I wanted cherries this year I'd have to make the drive back home a few weeks early. With my little man still in school this posed a bit of a problem, but we made a late night trip down just in time to pick as much as we could before the birds ate the rest.

We walked away with nearly 10 gallons of sour cherries, or about half of the usual harvest, since it managed to rain all weekend, making the ground too soft for a ladder. Believe me, I tried and subsequently gave up once I started listing dangerously to one side. I have a habit of breaking things (arms, legs, ankles and what not) any time I'm left unsupervised, so I wisely gave up and cursed the fact that I'll always be vertically challenged.

I have high hopes that my little guy will one day be taller than I am or at least able to shimmy up the tree and pick some of the higher branches. I'm counting down the days....

But I shouldn't complain since the harvest left me busy the following week turning piles of cherries into nearly twelve pints of cherry almond preserves and pie filling. I even had enough leftover filling for a small batch of cherry crumble with almond cardamom topping. Life is good and so is this pie filling, so if you stumble across sour cherries at the farmers' market make sure to put some up for later, you won't regret the decision at all.

Cherry Almond Pie Filling | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Almond Pie Filling


makes 2 pints or 1 quart


Ingredients

3⅓ cups cups fresh sour cherries, pits removed (see notes)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup ClearJel (regular, not instant)
1⅓ cup cold water
1½ teaspoons pure almond extract
4 teaspoons bottled lemon juice

Directions

  • Set a large pot of water to boil. Once the cherries have been pitted and measured add them to the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil, then drain and keep in a covered dish.
  • In a large pot combine sugar, ClearJel, water, and almond extract. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice, continue to boil for an additional minute, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat, gently fold in the cherries, then immediately transfer to sterilized pint or quart jars making sure to leave a full inch of headspace.
  • Process in a water bath for 30 minutes (0 - 1,000 ft),  35 minutes (1,001 - 3,000 ft), 40 minutes (3,001 - 6,000 ft) or 45 minutes (if above 6,000 ft). The time is the same for both pints and quarts. 

Notes

When measuring your cherries make sure you have 3⅓ cups after the pits have been removed otherwise you won't have enough cherries to fill the jars.

Not sure where to find ClearJel? I've never seen it sold at our local stores, so I buy a from Amazon and have it shipped to me. My preferred brand comes from SB Canning, which isn't available at the moment, so my second choice would be from Hoosier Hill Farm

ClearJel expands quite a bit during processing, so make sure you leave a full inch of headspace when filling your jars. Anything less and you run the risk of your lid popping while it's in the water bath (if you're using Weck jars) or compromising your seal (if using Ball/Kerr jars.)

The original recipe I'm working from calls for ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon of ClearJel. I usually split this into two pint jars and find that I always have extra Jel left over so I've slightly adapted the recipe above.

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.

New England Clam Chowder

As soon as the last bit of snow melts I go through a bit of a Spring cleaning craze. I tear the house apart, organizing as I go, and put away our winter clothing in anticipation of warmer weather. The only problem is that every year, like clockwork, we have a late cold snap that makes me regret pulling out my tank tops and shorts. I thought I was in the clear this year, our weather has been unusually warm, but just before I left on my trip to Oklahoma things took a turn for the worst. The temperature dipped down in to the low 40s at night and I found myself regretting the fact that all my sweaters had been neatly boxed up and put away.

You would think that by now I would have learned, but no, I'm a bit stubborn in my hopes for warmer weather. It's one of the many things I've missed since moving up North.  So instead of burying myself under a mountain of blankets to keep warm I snuck into the kitchen and made a huge batch of chowder. I figured that it would warm me from the inside while insuring I didn't have to worry about cooking for a few days. I spent the rest of the week running around doing laundry like a mad woman and packing up the entire house to take with me on my two week trip to visit my family. My plan was a success and even better, by the time I returned home the weather had warmed up enough that I could get an early start on my summer tan.

While it's getting a little warm for chowder in many parts of the world, there really is never a wrong time to make chowder. My advice for those of you who facing an early summer, crank your air down low and enjoy some anyway. One bite and I promise you'll thank me, at least up until the point you get your electric bill.

New England Clam Chowder | Not Starving Yet

Ingredients


1 - 2 pieces applewood-smoked bacon, crumbled
3 - 4 red potatoes, diced
1 leek, diced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1 Tablespoon bacon grease
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half & half or heavy cream
2 cans clams + juice, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
additional salt and black pepper, to taste
 

Directions

 

  • In a large pot cook bacon until crispy, set aside to cool. Add leek, shallot, garlic, and butter to the bacon grease left in the pot. Cook vegetables over low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes or until the leek has softened. Do not allow the shallots to brown.
  • In a separate pot add potatoes and cover with cold water. Cook over high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Once cooked transfer the potatoes to a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Allow cooled potatoes to drain and set aside for later.
  • Add flour to the cooked vegetables and stir until everything is well coated. If there is still bacon grease left in the pot add additional flour as needed until it has been soaked up by the flour.
  • Add half & half or heavy cream, clams and juice, then bring the contents of the pot to a simmer. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes or until the soup has thickened. Turn off the heat, add the cooked potatoes, additional salt and pepper, to taste, then allow then soup to rest for an hour before rewarming and serving.
  • Optional: top with crumbled bacon and oyster crackers before serving.
     

Notes

 


Make sure you don't skip the resting period for this soup, it allows the potatoes time to soak up the flavor from the clams. For best results you can make this soup a day ahead of time, then rewarm it before serving.

 

Spring Charcuterie and Cheese Board #Sponsored by Carnivore Club

Those of you who are meat lovers are really in for a treat today, I'm going to give you a sneak peak inside the April Carnivore Club box. For those of you who haven't heard of Carnivore Club, they're a subscription service dedicated to bringing you tasty, handcrafted meats from around the world. That's right, with the push of a button you can now get all of the meat delivered to your door and you don't even need to put pants on. This is the ultimate meat club for discerning individuals and let me tell you, they don't mess around when it comes to providing you with quality meat.

Vegetarians, I apologize, this box may tempt you away from your healthy lifestyle. If Carnivore Club had been around while I was still shunning meat I would have quit that nasty... er... healthy habit cold turkey. Don't worry, you can still send it to mom and dad (Mother's Day and Father's Day are coming up you know) and perhaps they'll at least let you smell the empty box. 

Today is not a good day to be a Vegetarian.

Make sure to keep reading for our tips on putting together the perfect Spring Charcuterie and Cheese board with the selections from the April box.

For a limited time you can Save 10% off your order from Carnivore Club using coupon code EATMEAT Offer valid through 5/31/16

Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from 'Nduja Artisans in Chicago, IL. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from 'Nduja Artisans in Chicago, IL. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

What's in the Box?


The April box included five delicious offerings from 'Nduja Artisans of Chicago, IL

Salame Di Manzo (Waygu Beef Salami)
'Nduja (Spreadable Salami)
Nostrano  (Pink Peppercorn Salami) 
Finocchiona (Fennel Pollen Salami)
Cacciatorini Piccanti (Spicy Hunters Sausage)
 


Review

 

First let me start by saying that there isn't a single thing in this box I wouldn't want to chow down on again. In fact, I'm trying to figure out how to stretch my meager grocery budget to allow for a reorder of some of my favorites from the box. I could absolutely live off of the Finocchiona and I could see the Cacciatorini Piccanti becoming my new favorite pizza topping.

Want to know what I thought about each of these tasty treats individually, don't worry, you're about to find out.

I've never had the opportunity to try Waygu Beef before, so I was incredibly curious about the Salame Di Manzo. The flavor and texture reminded me a bit of summer sausage because it's so heavily spiced with peppercorn and a little bit dry. Surprisingly this ended up being my least favorite, mostly because of the dry texture (I'm not a huge fan of summer sausage either), but my husband said I was crazy and proceeded to finish it all off himself.

The 'Nduja immediately caught my eye when I first opened the box as it's the largest of the five offerings, but I'll admit they had me at the words spreadable sausage—I couldn't wait to cut into it. It's made from a combination of Calabrian Peppers and 100% Berkshire Pork which gives it the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smoke. It's also the most versatile of this months offerings as you can slather it on crackers, make a spicy vinaigrette, or stir it in to eggs (which I highly recommend.)  I can't wait to experiment with the leftovers.

I'm not even sure where to begin with the Nostrano, it's not like anything I've ever had the pleasure of tasting before. At first the flavor is mild; I can pick out the garlic and a hint of something slightly sweet (perhaps the wine) before finally tasting the pink peppercorns. I'm really surprised how much the flavor changes from start to finish.

The Cacciatorini Piccanti really packs a punch, so those of you who love things hot and spicy will really enjoy this one. I like to think of this one as pepperoni on steroids, it has a similar flavor profile, but a much more bold flavor. I can't wait to try this out on a pizza, I think it would be delicious.

My favorite out of all the offerings this month was the Finocchiona, a salami made with fennel pollen, fennel seeds, chianti, and black pepper. It absolutely melts in your mouth and was a clear favorite on our cheese board (it was one of the first to disappear, although I may have helped things along significantly.) 

Would I order this again? Absolutely! This box sent me into a meat coma that lasted the whole weekend. I really need more of this in my life.
 

Price


Pay as little as $50/month with a recurring subscription (monthly, bi-monthly, and quarterly plans available) with a three month minimum or purchase a single box for $55. 
 

Where to Subscribe

Carnivore Club - The Ultimate Meat Club for Discerning Individuals

For a limited time Save 10% off your order using coupon code EATMEAT Offer valid through 6/30/16

Deadline for Father's Day orders is June 30th


The July box features features a selection of meats from Wisconsin River Meats including elk and bison summer sausage!

Make sure to keep reading for our tips for putting together the perfect Spring Charcuterie and Cheese board

Spring Charcuterie and Cheese Board + Carnivore Club Review

My rules for putting together a first-class charcuterie and cheese board are fairly simple: select one type of cheese for every type of meat you'll be offering, making sure at least one of them is a good aged cheddar so it doesn't compete with the flavors of the meat you select. If you're offering something spicy, balance it out with something sweet. I've noticed that if I put fresh fruit out on the board it often gets overlooked, so I like to offer at least one cheese with fruit in it. This time it was white stilton, one with blueberries and the other with apricots—it's the perfect addition and adds a little color to make things more visually appealing. I also like to include something soft, but flavorful. Lately I've been leaning towards herbed Havarti; it's a great addition for the non-meat lovers since it's really tasty on crackers or eaten alone. The last choice is always a wild card, something that jumps out at me while I'm shopping—in this case it was a mustard seed white cheddar, which adds a little zip to some of the more mild meat selections. 

Other important things to remember:

Always buy twice as many crackers you think you'll need. Even after the meat and cheese is long gone people always enjoy nibbling on them, so it's important to have extras.

And finally, remember there is no right or wrong to putting together your board. As long as you choose a good selection of meats and cheeses to accommodate a variety of tastes you'll be in good hands. But don't forget, for the best flavor you should always serve your selections at room temperature.
 

Spring Charcuterie and Cheese Board

Cheese

3 Year Aged Sharp Cheddar - Hooks
Blueberry Fayre (White Stilton with Blueberries) - Long Clawson
Sunburst (White Stilton with Dried Apricots) - Long Clawson
Havarti with Herbs & Spices - Castello
Red Dragon (Mustard Seed White Cheddar) - Somordale

Meat

Cacciatorini Piccanti (Spicy Hunters Sausage) - 'Nduja Artisans
Nostrano
(Pink Peppercorn Salami) - 'Nduja Artisans
Finocchiona
(Fennel Pollen Salami) - 'Nduja Artisans
Salame Di Manzo
(Waygu Beef Salami) - 'Nduja Artisans
'Nduja
- 'Nduja Artisans

Crackers

Potter's Crackers - Winter Wheat Crackers and Caramelize Onion Crisps

Here's an up close look at the 'Nduya and Salame Di Manzo made from Wagyu beef

Here's an up close look at the 'Nduya and Salame Di Manzo made from Wagyu beef

Disclosure


Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from 'Nduja Artisans in Chicago, IL. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

Whole Grain Freekeh Risotto with Mushrooms and Asparagus #Unprocessed

Several weeks ago I spent the entire week snuggled in to bed with a sick child and two dozen of his favorite stuffed animals. No amount of coaxing could get him to move from my lap, so I gave in and took the week off from writing. On the first day I caught up on reading some of my favorite blogs while he slept, but eventually boredom set in. I'm not the type of person who can sit still for long and little man only woke up when I the thought crossed my mind that I may want to get out of bed at some point. A distraction was in order, so I started entering some of the great giveaways my fellow food bloggers had going on that week. I ended up winning a lovely cake stand from Clayton Family Kitchen and a bag of freekeh, a type of roasted green wheat, from Lisa Living Well.

The giveaway Gods were definitely smiling on me that week.

The timing couldn't have been better; one of my goals for October #Unprocessed has been to continue my education on alternative grains. Freekeh is new to me, but it looks very similar to other grains I've played with recently like einkorn, kamut, and farro. The flavor is a little nutty, almost like wild rice. It apparently tastes enough like wild rice that my husband assumed I'd run out of arborio, the traditional short-grain rice used in risotto, and switched things up so we could still have my favorite dinner.

It's never been easy to switch out my husband's favorite ingredients for something a little more healthy, but freekeh tastes enough like something he's already familiar with that it went unnoticed until I said something. In fact, he made me go get the package just to prove I wasn't messing with him when I said his risotto was made with roasted green wheat. It almost reminded me of the time I told him I was pregnant and he didn't believe me. He won't ever live that one down (but in his defense the doctor did say it was unlikely I'd ever be able to have children.)

So much has changed in our lives since that day nearly five years ago. We've made a lot of progress on living a healthier lifestyle and both my guys are fans of freekeh, the grain I'm still not sure how to pronounce. If you would have asked me five years ago if I thought we'd be enjoying a meal meal like this I would have laughed and said probably not, then picked up the phone to order a pizza (our traditional don't want to cook tonight meal.) Boy how times have changed!

Whole Grain Freekeh Risotto with Mushrooms and Asparagus - a quick and healthy weeknight meal  | Not Starving Yet

Whole Grain Freekeh Risotto with Mushrooms and Asparagus
makes 2 - 3 servings

Ingredients

2 cups cold water
1 cup dry freekeh
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed & sliced thin
1 cup asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 - 3 Tablespoons whipping cream
salt and pepper, to taste
grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Bring a saucepan of water to a boil before adding dry freekeh. Turn the temperature down to low, cover the saucepan, and allow the freekeh to cook until most of the water has been absorbed, or approximately 20 minutes.
  • In a skillet melt salted butter, add garlic, mushrooms, and asparagus. Cook until the onions are translucent and the asparagus has softened. This should take approximately 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Combine the sautéed veggies and freekeh. Add whipping cream, salt and pepper (to taste), then top with grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Notes

When it comes to salt everyone has different tastes, so I've left the decision on how much to add in your hands. I find that I use roughly ¼ teaspoon of sea salt per cup of freekeh, but you may want to add half that amount, taste, and add more as necessary. 

Having trouble tracking down freekeh? Visit the Freekeh Foods website to find which stores near you stock it.