Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My hands hurt

... from pitting cherries. Lesson #1 of this year's season: Never try to pit 20 lbs of cherries by hand. I have a pitter that looks like a pair of scissors; and after a few dozen cherries my right hand was hurtin'. I am nursing it with Forbidden Fruit Plumiscuous Wine, a new discovery that makes me very, very happy. I got hooked on plum wine (aka SeolJoongMae) when I lived in Korea. My friend Nessa and I drank the stuff by the bottle while comisserating about our love lives and other foreign worker drama.

It, like Plumiscuous, is 'fortified'. Good times.
When I came back to Canada the plum wine from local liquor stores was pretty bad. Syrupy and not the mildly tart kind I was used to, so I gave it up. Enter Forbidden Fruit. Their plum wine is gorgeous, and tastes like summer. Highly recommended. I have seen thier wines at Silver Springs Liquor Store in Calgary. Pearsuasion is also really good.

Bonus: no headache! I discovered, thanks to a good friend and booze afficionado, that organic wines don't have added sulphites (a preservative) and therefore result in little to no headache the next day. In the past I had headaches from even one or two glasses. Some sulphites exist naturally in wines, but the quantities are much lower than in the non-organics. This is a good reason to also buy organic vinegar, by the way... sulphites are added to almost all non-organic ones. We didn't make it to The Vinegar Works in Summerland on this trip, but will be sure to drop by there sometime. My husband's mom bought Gerverstraminer vinegar there last month. Yum.

Lesson #2 from this season: Plan fruit buying carefully. E and I were so happy to see cases of affordable organic fruit that we took home more cherries than we could eat, and I realized when we got back that they don't can well. Also we are not big into sweet stuff, we don't eat a lot of jam or desert, so it's hard to know what to do with so many. (Did you know that most pies are made with sour cherries not sweet ones? Um, neither did I.) Ah well, we soldiered on, it was so difficult, stuffing our faces with fruit all week.. Also I froze a bunch and made Amaretto Cherries (because sweet cherries do preserve well this way, aparently..).

The apricots were much easier to figure out. I froze some, dried some, and made nectar, which was a bit of a handful in my tiny kitchen (wash, pit, slice, puree, cook in giant pot, add sweetener, cook again, spill some on the floor, put through food mill to strain, heat up jars, hot water bath.. ta-da!) but the result was great. I got 10 1/2 cups of concentrate from 3 1/2 pounds of apricots. The nectar can be diluted for drinking or used in recipes. Also, I threw the leftover pulp in the dehydrator (which has been whirring for two days now..) and made fruit leather. I'll provide an update when I figure out what to do with the pits, I hear you can split them and eat the kernels like almonds.