Last Year I had a lot of fun with dark cherries, one of my favorite berries. Unless its blueberries…or red raspberries…or blackberries – oh well, I love them all and appreciate them as their seasons quickly follow each other. But the seasons are very short and I capture as many as I can before the next one comes in. How wonderful to pull out cherries or other berries in the deep of winter!
Check out last year’s recipes here for Cherries Bourbon and Cherries Bourbon Sorbet: http://preservingnow.com/a-jubilee-of-cherries.
For this year’s crop, I was able to score almost ten pounds of organic Washington cherries at a ridiculously low price. So I’m having fun trying small batches of several recipes. The first one is to introduce my new food dryer.
I just purchased this and have only tried a few fruits so far. Both were simple and great. So I’m inspired to keep going and keep it simple for now. I was encouraged by Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars.com when she was here in Atlanta on tour. After telling her I was interested in starting food drying, she recommended I look into the less expensive and smaller versions. Like Marisa, I suffer from limited kitchen space.
First, my dryer is a Nesco, picture here. I found a variety of Nescos’ offered on line and bought the one with the larger wattage (faster drying) and variable temperature controls. They have removable, stackable trays that are easily washed and offer the flexiblity of drying smaller or larger amounts. It breaks down and stores on a top shelf in my storage room, a necessary feature for my limited space. And it comes with a very complete instruction book.
For the cherries, it’s simply de-stem, de-pit, cut in half, and place then skin side down on the trays. They need from 16-24 hours (per the book). I did the full 24 hours to assure they will store well (without molding). You can see they turn out a lovely dark, almost black color. Their sweetness and flavor is more intense than when fresh. Store in a mason jar after cooling – or a vacuum sealer bag if you have that system.
FYI, I have a wonderful cherry pitter that does 4 at a time. You can find out more here: http://preservingnow.com/a-jubilee-of-cherries.
Uses? Well, for snacking of course! I love that these as they are so portable for carrying in the car. Kids love them, too. Mix with other seeds and fruits for a great trail mix. Use in salads with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar sprinkled over . Or reconstitute them with a small amount of rum or bourbon for an adult-dessert topping on ice cream or sorbets.
Any drying tips from you food drying veterans?
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