It's pick-your-own cherry season! We went to 'Stella Creek' at Forest Range, probably a half-hour drive away and in some of the loveliest hills country. Last time we drove nearby here we saw a country cricket match that could have been straight out of Midsomer Murders. Although perhaps without the mystery gunman hidden in the scoreboard.
We met up with Andy's sister and her little boy Ori (in the blue stripes above with Clem). It was very well-organised and they charged a small entry fee so nobody felt guilty about tasting, and more tasting.
There were more cherries than we could possibly have wished for and we picked nine kilos. Yup. Nine kilos. It was kind of hard to stop... ooh look, but this one's perfect, and this whole branch! And if you pick over three kilos they refund your entry fee so really... we had to, right?
Back home with our nine kilos and some brand new Fowlers Vacola preserving equipment, we dove into the world of bottled fruit.
(The boys had a bit of fun with the foam packing sleeves from the jars.)
The cherries were picked over to eliminate split or spoilt fruit. The chickens had a little cherry feast too.
Fruit was de-stemmed, washed and packed into jars. A simple sugar syrup (2 cups sugar per litre water, heated until well dissolved) was poured over and the seals fitted. Then into the water-filled preserving unit which is electric and self-contained, so we can use it on our outside bench and not heat up the house on hot summer days. After an hour you drain away the water and take out the jars. The clips can come off after a day and the fruit should keep for over a year!
It's much easier than I imagined. I think we might be haunting eBay for a bunch more Fowlers Vacola jars now. I don't think our garden will be yielding enough to bottle much this year but there's always markets and more pick-your-owns. Hooray for cherries and jars!
- Jane x