I could not resist the 7 litre bushel of cherries at the farmers market. Who could? After gorging on cherries and suffering subsequent tummy aches, I decided to preserve some of them to enjoy later.
Guess what? Pitting cherries, even with my handy-dandy cherry pitter, is no…bowl of cherries. (…groan?) I am covered in cherry splash-back, my hands are purple, my cookbooks and camera are splattered.
I experimented with saving them in syrup so that I could use them as topping for yogurt, ice cream or for baking tarts later in the year. They worked out well, and are oh so beautiful.
I made cherry jam, using no-sugar needed pectin, so I didn’t have super sweet jam like the strawberry I made earlier this week.
And, I made a Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake, using a Martha recipe. I didn’t have the right pan, Martha wanted me to use a tube pan but all I had was a bundt pan, which means my streusel topping will actually be a streusel bottoming. oops. ah well.
… and…Flipped over. No one can tell, right?
Cherry Filled Coffee Cake & the Queen’s Sugar
In the cake recipe, I needed vanilla extract. I only had some crappy artificial extract left from years ago, so I used that. My lovely friend Jacqui (co-founder of the Cross Country Baking Club), gave me a jar of homemade vanilla extract a few Christmases ago. I finally used it all up and decided it was high-time I made my own. I used rum as the alcohol because I had some from a recent trip to Cuba and think it will impart a nice flavour. The 4 split vanilla beans and 1 cup of rum will take about eight weeks to become the vanilla extract we all know and love. I’ll keep you updated on its exciting and slow progress.
Day One – Vanilla Extract
The Brickworks Saturday farmers market is quickly becoming my favourite place in the city of Toronto. I have eaten the best belgian waffle of my life from the waffle bar, drank delicious coffee from the merchants of green coffee, bought beautiful tomato plants from the Evergreen garden centre and snacked on the most rich and delicious chili chocolate from Chocosol. The Brickworks is our new Saturday morning routine.
Early summer produce is now getting to market and I am fulfilling my life-long goal (yes, big dreams, big dreams) to preserve my own food. When I was a kid, my dad always preserved pickles, tomato sauce and salsa, and I have vague memories of the process but hadn’t made anything other than freezer jam since that time. I visited family in Prince Edward Island and was inspired by my great-aunt’s cold cellar and the amazing jarred tomato soup she served for lunch made of tomatoes when they were at their ripest and most delicious. What a pleasure it was to taste a summer tomato soup when it was still cold outside.
The Dunes in Prince Edward Island
I started with strawberries. I bought a flat of the ripest strawberries from the market and made 9 jars of jam. Alongside this, I made a strawberry rhubarb jam that is far more strawberry than rhubarb. The jam itself is extremely sweet, far too much sugar in the recipe, but live and learn, live and learn. Preserving, or “putting up” is a forgotten skill. Many of our grandparents preserved out of necessity, so that they had food in the leaner times of the year, we don’t need to do this anymore. We can visit the grocery store and have strawberries, albeit, watery, gross and impotent ones, all year round. Preserving the flavours of fresh food while it is at its best and reducing my dependence on the grocery store is important to me.
And I love new obsessions. This is one of them.