Working at the farmers market, I spent two weeks next to a cherry farm, and at the end of the markets, they gave me two pounds of cherries for free. I tried really hard to pay for them the second week, but he shooed my money away, saying it was either give them to me or feed them to the goats. Mind you, I didn’t want to steal from the goats, but cherries are really expensive!
Two pounds, two weeks in a row, is a lot of cherries. We couldn’t keep up and the second batch started to lose its looks. What to do? Pie? Jam? Find a field of goats?
Now, I’ve had apple butter before, and I’ve had cherries before, so why not cherry butter? Genius! Oh wait, I didn’t invent that. There’s a ton of cherry butter recipes out there already, all a little different. Basically you cook fruit waaaaay down with some sugar and you get fruit butter. It’s not a jelly; there’s no pectin involved. What you’re making is a dense, sweetened up, pureed fruit spread.
I used this recipe from Andrea Meyers, because it was built for just a couple pounds of cherries and didn’t have a ton of sugar. I didn’t bother processing for preserving…because this made about one cup of cherry butter. I can polish that off lightning fast.
Mom’s late-summer gift from last year, a cherry pitter, finally got to see some glory as it tore through my cherries, wasting very little fruitmeat, just spitting out the tiny stones. How often does a gadget work so perfectly? Oh, maybe when it’s a stick blender, which also came into play here. As stated in the recipe, after the first few minutes of cooking, you mash the cherries a little, to break open the skins, then puree it. I had to tilt the pot a little to get the depth needed for proper (and safe) immersion blending—you do not want hot cherry juice in your eye!
The cooking time seemed a bit off. I stopped after the 25 minutes mentioned in the recipe, but it just wasn’t thick enough and I had to put it back on the heat for another 10. But it came out gorgeous and thick and wanting to go on bagels, pancakes, biscuits—all those beautiful starchy things my belly craves on a cool summer morning. I need to talk my way into a bunch more free cherries so I can have this stuff all year round.