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Colors of Summer

Favorite Colors of Summer:

Blue

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Freezing blueberries is easy. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of foil, then lay a kitchen towel on top. Rinse a whole bunch of just picked berries or just bought berries. Transfer them to the towel. Give a little shake to give the towel a chance to absorb all the excess water. Carefully remove the towel. Pull out enough berries to have just one layer of berries in the tray. Freeze until firm and then transfer to a plastic bag for safe keeping in the freezer.

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What do you do with the blueberries you pulled out of the tray? Why, eat them, of course! I still have probably 8 pounds of blueberries to get through. It’s a good thing blueberries keep well in the fridge.

Red.
This is possibly our all time favorite color so far this season.

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The boys kept saying over and over how this is their favorite shade of red. I agree. I loved watching them work together to pit all 6.5 pounds of cherries that we picked. Having little helpers around is really great.

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We made the sour cherry jam that I made last year, only I doubled the recipe and added 2 tablespoons of kirsch at the end. Booze=yum! We had enough cherries for jam and a tray to freeze for later.

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The jam is heavenly when combined with greek yogurt. Summer color doesn’t get much better than this. What’s your favorite color of summer so far?

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A Recipe for Summer Magic

We’re on summer break.  Summer is early for us this year.  We’ve had no winter to speak of and an unusually warm spring, so time seems to be moving along at a quicker than usual pace.  Produce is ripening early.

Black cherries are easily 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.  Unfortunately, we had a terrible storm a week ago that rendered a lot of them watery and mushy, but we were able to find a few good ones.

Since the sour cherries were almost fully ripe, we picked a few of those as well.  Those are not for eating.  I have been wanting to make a sour cherry jam for years and this is the year.

The sour cherries were especially pretty hanging on the trees like little jewels.

It was a beautiful morning; warm, but pleasant with a light breeze and very comfortable in the shade.  The skies were a clear, light blue, and the orchard was quiet with only the sounds of birds and our conversation.    No one was bickering or complaining.  Everything went as well as we could have wished.  It was one of those magical moments of life that have to be savored and remembered.  This won’t be too hard to do because I have made some jam.

The dark red ones are spiced black cherry jam and the bright red jars are sour cherry with vanilla.  The sour cherry is amazing.  Its sweet and sour flavor explodes on your palate, while the vanilla smooths everything out so you are not too overwhelmed.  I was a little sad that I only have two small jars of this, but that’s ok.  I’ll save them for winter when I need a little summer in my life.  If you can find some, you can do the same.

Sour Cherry Jam

1 pound 4 ounces sour cherries, pitted

10 ounces white cane sugar

juice of 1/2 lime

zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

3 ounces apple jelly

Prepare your jars and lids.  Everything should be sterile if you want to can them.  If you’re just going to stick them in the fridge and eat them up right away, then they just have to be clean.  Place a few metal teaspoons in the freezer.

Place everything in a wide, medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let it boil for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.  It should go from looking like this…

…to looking like this.

Basically, the cherries will break down and the whole mixture will get thicker, but it does look different, so I thought I’d show you.

To test if the jam is ready, place a few drops of jam on a frozen teaspoon and let it sit for a minute.  Pick it up.  If the jam does not run or runs very slowly, then it is ready to be canned.  If it runs, let it simmer for another five minutes.

Fill the jars and can using your favorite technique. I put  one of the pieces of vanilla in each jar and then filled it.  Store in the cupboard until winter is overwhelming you and you need a little relief.

Makes 2 half pint jars with a few tablespoons leftover to eat right away.  It should keep for a year.