Fruits of Summer

June has me craving garden sweets. Rhubarb has been gracing my table for weeks; now strawberries are reddening to join it. In warmer areas, you’re probably anticipating blackberries, blueberries, and tart cherries before the month is out. As we roll into July, raspberries, apricots, and early plums will all start to appear. It’s hard to resist summer’s sweet bounty.

It’s also hard to overcome the desire for fruit out of season. Although American grocery stores stock nearly every vegetable imaginable all year, some fruits can be harder to come by outside their harvest window. Those that do appear year-round, or close to it, lack that fresh summer flavor that makes them so appealing. How they are grown is also of concern; more than half of the Dirty Dozen list (foods with the worst pesticide residue based on USDA and FDA data) is fruit. These are all good reasons to grow—and save—fruit yourself.
Read more about preserving the fruits of summer

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Tart Cherries: Sweet

My area is known for its sweet Flathead (Lambert) cherries, but I grew up with a pie cherry tree that I would climb into to pick its tart, bright red fruit—and often eat right within the branches. So let that warn you as to how tart I like my cherries.

If you’ve read the Canning Tools page, you may have noticed a slow cooker on the optional list. Fruit butters are entirely the reason. Fruit butters use both pulp and juice (unlike jelly) but let a long cooking time evaporate excess moisture and build dense texture and flavor (unlike jam). I use a slow cooker to make all fruit butters, which lengthens the cooking time but makes the process nearly hands off and burnproof. Add some spices to the reduction, and the cherries pop. If you have more cherries than your slow cooker can hold, set them aside for scones. Learn to make Tart Cherry Butter with Chai Spices and Sour Cream Scones with Tart Cherries