Sour Cherries in Jars

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A few weeks ago, some--dear, darling--friends showed up on our doorstep with two quart-sized bags of sour cherries.

After researching the options for their consumption, I put a twitter call out to the goddess of all things canning, Ms. Food In Jars, Marisa McClellan.  She pointed me to the bourbon cherries recipe in her new book Preserving by the Pint, and mentioned--in the humblest, sweetest way--that Ruth Reichl had mentioned that she had enjoyed a gifted jar of them.

And because I'm a nerd, I was all like, "That's, like, two degrees of separation!  I am so making bourbon cherries tonight!"  And I went home and I did.

Here's the thing, though, if you're going to preserve cherries, fortheloveofgod, go buy a cherry pitter.  (Right here--300 options, for serious.)  I started by trying to bash the pits out with the back of a knife, but quickly decided it was just as efficient to squeeze them out with my fingers.  

Efficient, but kinda dangerous.  Because along with each pit a squirt of cherry juice would explode out, often to a completely unpredictable location.

By the time I finished the first quart, the blood of dead cherries was dripping down my arms.  It was splattered all over my face and chest and hair.  A few especially powerful little fruits even hit the light fixture hanging above me.  

I had originally intended to leave the second quart for another night, but I couldn't fathom cleaning up the mess twice, so I trudged ahead.  

Happily, they were completely worth it.  As I tasted the few that were left in the bottom of the pot after my jars were filled, I was blissfully reminded of the Manhattans at my favorite cocktail joint.  We'll pop a few jars to eat on ice cream this summer, I'm sure, but most of them are going to get hidden away for when mama can drink bourbon again.

[Pictured, a few of my favorite canning books: Preserving by the Pint; Food in Jars; Canning for a New Generation; Put 'em Up! Fruit; Salt Sugar Smoke; Put 'em Up!; and the classic Ball Blue Book.]