This is my sour cherry tree. We panted it this past spring. As of now it only stands about 5 1/2 feet tall, but one day it will stretch it's limbs and give us a crop of sour cherries every July. Until then I will continue to go to one of our local Farmer's markets and buy locally grown sour cherries.
This has been a tradition for somewhere around 5 years now. Every year when the sour cherries come in season I go out and get 3-5 quarts of them. I come home and spend an extraordinary amount of time pitting all of the cherries. Then I turn 6 cups of those cherries into a sour cherry pie. I found this recipe on Epicurious and I have yet to find one that's better. And by that I mean we loved it so much I never bothered trying any others. Sometimes that's how it goes, you get lucky and strike gold the first time. Who am I to question the pie?
That's the love
My exact comment on the print out is "So, so much work. But worth every minute...at least once a year." And that is exactly how many times a year I make it...once. Cherry pie is one of the few desserts that I make, just because. Just because I love my family. Just because it's that good. You get the picture.
After the cherry pie is made I still have at least 6 more cups of cherries, and sometimes more depending on how many quarts I picked up. Some years we have made Cherry Garcia ice cream, which I love on with a big fat spoon. Also, for the past 2 (?) years I have made what I think is my hands down favorite jam, Sour Cherry Rhubarb jam. It was one of those happy culinary accidents that happened one summer when my rhubarb plant was being particularly overachieving and I was throwing it into everything I could. But I'm not here to talk about sour cherry rhubarb jam.
This year when my family picked 10 lbs. of blueberries, I used the last several cups to make some blueberry syrup with the juice and some blueberry butter with the pulp. I am a total fan of using every last bit of something so it was a perfect recipe for me. And it got me thinking of other berries that I could do something similar with. Well sour cherries were on my list for the upcoming week so I decided that I would give that a try. But then I had a little thought of combining sour cherries with chai flavors. I could almost taste it.
I have a favorite chai recipe that I use from Art & Lemons. You can check out the recipe here. It's the only one I use now. Mixing up your own batch of chai on a cold winter morning is just about the most wonderful thing to do when you are stuck indoors. So I adapted the syrup/butter recipe from Ball's Complete Book Of Home Preserving with Art & Lemons Chai recipe and I came up with:
Sour Cherry Chai Butter
Adapted from Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving and Art & Lemons
(Makes 2-3 half pints)
- 6 cups of sour cherries, rinsed, destemmed, and pitted
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- Grated zest from 1 lemon
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 8 cardamom pods; crushed
- 2 whole star anise
- 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
- 2 inch piece of ginger; thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
(These are almost word for word from the Ball canning book, with the exception of my alterations)
- In a stainless steel saucepan, combine the cherries with the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring and crushing the mixture with a potato masher. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Transfer cherries to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip until 2 1/2 cups of juice has been collected, adding water if necessary to yield the required quantity. Set juice aside to make syrup, add it to some sparkling water, or a shrub would be good too. Puree remaining pulp and juice in a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Set puree aside.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- In a piece of cheesecloth combine the crushed cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, sliced ginger, and black peppercorns. Tie into a loose bundle and set aside.
- In a clean large stainless steel saucepan, combine the sour cherry puree, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and spice bundle. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and holds it's shape on a spoon.
- Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space, if necessary, by adding hot butter. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
- Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
*Get a printable version of this recipe here.
There it sits in a pint jar in my pantry, squeezed between blueberry butter and sour cherry syrup. I have to say that I really like this combination of flavors. The first thing you taste is the chai and then the cherry follows with it's natural tartness. My husband thinks it would be great around Christmas time, which works for me since that's probably about when I'll crack that jar open. If you like chai you will like this butter. And I now have a new sour cherry recipe to add to my arsenal.