Can you imagine 40 pounds of organic, pitted, frozen cherries? Think you’ve died and gone to heaven? Well, maybe you wouldn’t think that if you had to make room for a quarter side of beef before fall in that same freezer. Our first project of preserving the harvest started with the cherries from North Star Organics. They are the only organic u-pick cherry orchard in Michigan and I’m happy they are very close by. Cheryl has both frozen and dehydrated cherries available or at least I think they do. I don’t think we bought them out…LOL We also purchased 5 pounds of dehyrated cherries which will be great in oatmeal, granola bars, cookies, and quick breads. Their “tart cherries” (Montmorency) are great for just about everything, they are sweeter than conventional “tart cherries”, according to my husband and he’s been eating them all his life.
This area, around Traverse City, Michigan, is known as the “Cherry Capital of the World” and the home of the “Cherry Hut” restaurant, “Cherry Republic” and everything else cherry. The Cherry Festival in Traverse City is a big event and draws about a half a million people up to our quiet little neck of the woods. None of the locals go near Traverse City around the 4th of July unless absolutely necessary or we’re taking someone to the festival from out of town.
Back to the harvest….we pressure canned 18 pints of cherries in an extra light syrup for cherrie pies. I use 2 pints for one pie made in my 9″ pie pans. The other half of the 40 pound box was repackaged into cryovac gallon bags that holds 8 cups of cherries, enough for 2 pies in each bag. We ended up with 9 bags of frozen cherries.
I like to preserve in various methods since the year I decide to freeze everything from the garden and of course that was the winter the power went out for 10 days and everything was lost. I’ve learned. I’ve learned to can, freeze and dehydrate.
This was the beginning of harvest time, late July for cherries, but I didn’t get around to doing the cherries until a couple of weeks ago.
Shortly after buying the cherries I got busy with peas. We blanched and froze about 8 packages of peas. I had a bunch of peas that had gotten more mature and had started to wrinkle just a bit on the pod. I had planned on shucking them and dehydrating them for soups and stews. However Chip wrestled with the bear and the peas for soups never got done.
I didn’t sit around long. Since then I’ve grated a whole bunch of monster zucchini…think 10 pounders. I find it much easier to use my Cuisinart and do a whole bunch at once. I put them in zip lock freezer bags and avoid using the vacuum sealer. There is way to much moisture in zucchini that will get sucked up into the vacuum sealer. There are two ways around this that I know of. One is to freeze the zucchini in mini loaf pans until they are hard and the moisture isn’t an issue and you can use the vacuum sealer without sucking up water into the seal and screwing up….or use zip lock bags and “get ‘er done”. My recipe for zucchini bread makes a double batch and calls for 3 cups of zucchini and also calls for water. When zucchini is grated and frozen it defrosts and there’s a lot of water and a lot less grated zucchini (measured in cups) than what went in. So this year I froze bags with a generous 4 cup portions and hope to end up pretty close to the right amount when I set to baking.
The tomatoes are still green and the corn and squash aren’t quite ready yet. Today I’m headed for the county fair to see who won the blue ribbons this year.