A family funeral in Harden this week was an unexpected bonus.
"Hard-hearted wench", I hear you cry - but not so. It was a sad occasion but it was also a chance for the family to catch up and that's not bad at all.
And, as Bob Hudson so memorably said in the Aussie classic, The Newcastle Song, "Don't you ever let a chance go by, O Lord, don't you ever let a chance go by".*
So we left early and overshot Harden by less than 10 minutes to make it to Petal Falls Orchard and load the car with cherries. When I say load, I mean 30 kilos of first quality at $5 a kilo for family and friends, and 10k of second quality at $2 for us for jam and sauce. And a cherry pie for Junior.
It is still early in the season, so the fruit isn't quite at íts best, but we weren't sure we'd have time for another cherry run this year. We spent two evenings pitting the 10 kilos of seconds in preparation for jam and sauce and we Friday night and most of Saturday performing the alchemy of preservation.
4 kilos went to jam and 5 kilos went to sauce, the other kilo mysteriously disappeared (some spoilage, some noms). We also processed another 4 kilos in preserving jars, poached some for breakfast and had some with icecream.
Any basic jam recipe is fine, such as this from Taste.com.au. I doubled the mix each time and added the juice of a lime and a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon. I also forgot to double the Jam Setta, so it took a couple of hours to reach setting point, but that's ok. For cherries, you really do need the added pectin.
The sauce recipe is one we trialled last year. I call it Cherry Christmas Sauce. Also from Taste.com.au, we substituted cherries for cranberries. While the recipe is billed as a jam, this stuff won't set and we've found it great as a saucy ingredient in main meals. I'll write up what we've done with pork belly, lamb mince and kangaroo fillets another time, but it's well worth the cherries.
And jewels for the store cupboard - 5 small jars of preserved cherries, 1 large jar of preserved cherries in port and another of preserved cherries in brandy. We've got dessert for Chrismas sorted, anyway.
*if anyone has access to the album this appears on, it also has a song "Librarian Lady" - would love to hear it!