Rainier cherries in syrup

Rainier cherries

Rainier cherries

It’s been a bumper year for the Rainier cherries. I picked 6Kg from the tree in the back garden in about half an hour (strictly speaking it’s my neighbour’s tree and I just picked the branches overhanging my garden).

So I’m left with a conundrum: What the hell am I going to do with them all? I pickled some – but that only used 400g. There’s no room in the freezer because it’s full of meats and stock.

No choice but to preserve them. I’d got a load of jam and pickle jars I’d saved up since last year, so no issue there.

There are loads of recipes online for canning / preserving fruit. I found this one on Simple Bites

I used triple the amount of cherries but you can adjust this accordingly:

  • 1Kg cherries
  • 1L water
  • ~300g sugar (adjust depending on how sweet your cherries are. These are really sweet)
  • Vanilla pods (I cut them up into quarters, one per jar)
  • Sanitised jars with “poppy” seal type lids – I put mine through the dishwasher, they were old gherkin jars from work.
  • Cherry stoner / pitter

While the jars are in the dishwasher, wash, de-stem and stone your cherries. You could do it manually with a knife, if you’re a masochist. It takes quite a while even with a stoner, and I couldn’t face doing any more after about 2Kg. So I kept some whole to fill some other jars.

Put the stoned cherries in water with a splash of lemon juice to stop them browning.

Dry your clean jars off in a low oven and keep them warm.

Then make the syrup – put the sugar and water in a pan and bring to a simmer, so that the sugar’s totally dissolved. Keep it on a low heat for now.

Put a huge pan of water on to boil. I can only get 3 jars at a time in mine. If you have a trivet to put in the bottom of the pan to keep the jars from the direct heat, then so much the better.

Put a piece of vanilla pod into each warm jar, and then cram as many cherries as you can in. Leave a little room at the top so you can cover them totally with the syrup.

Cover the cherries with the hot syrup, and give them a bang on the work surface to loosen any trapped air. Make sure the thread on the jars is super clean (use a clean towel with a little boiling water on if there’s bits of cherry stuck to them), and then hand-tighten the lids.

Transfer them to the huge pan of water you’ve got simmering. The water should cover the jars completely. Simmer them for about 18 minutes. You should see bubbles coming from the jars during this time.

After 18 or so minutes, lift them out of the hot water and put the next batch in. A jar-lifter is really very handy here.

Let the jars cool down, and listen out for the “pops” from the lids as they seal. Any which don’t pop inwards you can keep in the fridge, the others are shelf safe.

Here are my jars full of cherries. They seem to have lost some colour which is a shame, but I was pleased when they all went pop!

Rainier cherries in syrup

Rainier cherries in syrup

Nasturtium ‘capers’

Nasturtium capers

Nasturtium ‘capers’

Nasturtiums are great plants. Easy to grow, good looking, and most importantly – you can eat them – flowers, seed pods, the whole shebang.

The flowers look great on a salad, they’ve got a really peppery taste – but I often just eat them straight off the plant (after a quick bug check!)

Nasturtiums plants

There are 3 nasturtiums plants in this basket

Flower and seed pod

Flower and seed pod

Pick the seed pods when they’re young (before they start to turn a reddish colour)

Seed pods and flowers

Seed pods and flowers

Give them a good rinse and split the larger pod trios into separate pods. Make a brine with 50g sea salt and a litre of water and soak them overnight, then wash them well and dry them.

Put them in a sterilised jar with a couple of bay leaves, cover them in white wine or cider vinegar, and that’s it. You could add whatever you like to the jar – rosemary, peppercorns or thyme. It’s up to you.

Leave them somewhere cool for a couple of weeks or so before using. They will last almost indefinitely, and they’re great in potato salad, or with fish dishes.

Beetroot pickled eggs

Beetroot pickled eggs

Beetroot pickled eggs

I like pickled eggs anyway but these were a bit of a revelation. Sweet and delicious.

They don’t taste anything like those sad looking pickled eggs you see on the chip shop shelf, drowned in pure acetic acid. I wish I had a shot of these sliced up. They’re pink all the way through apart from the middle of the yolk. I was too busy mmm’ing to take a picture at that point I think.

Anyway here’s how you make them. You need:

  • Half a dozen or so free range eggs
  • A fresh beetroot or two
  • A couple of shallots, sliced
  • Cider vinegar – about 125ml
  • White wine vinegar  – about 125ml
  • Castor sugar – about 50 grams
  • A teaspoon of sea salt
  • A sterilised Kilner jar (or other vinegar safe jam jar)

Sterilise the jar (wash it well in hot soapy water, rinse, and pop into the oven to dry out at about 180C, OR put them through the dishwasher, then dry in a low oven) If you’re using a Kilner jar, don’t put the rubber seal in the oven 🙂

  • Hard boil the eggs. If you’re anything like me, you’ll ruin a few trying to peel them. Boil a few extra, and eat the ones you don’t like the look of, while you’re getting on with the rest of it.
  • Peel and dice the beetroot, then boil in a little water until tender. Save the water.
  • Put the eggs, beetroot chunks, and shallots into the jar (or jars).
  • Put the vinegars, sugar and salt in with the saved beetroot water and bring to a simmer, stirring, until the sugar and salt have dissolved. A couple of minutes or so.
  • Pour the vinegar solution over the eggs, beetroot and shallots in the jar, allow it to cool to room temperature and seal it.

Pop the jar into the fridge for a week before eating (if you can last that long!)

That’s it!

You could add other things to the brine if you like. Garlic, mustard seeds, whatever. Up to you, but I like them just like this.