Without fail, every year around this time, I wander purposefully then aimlessly then frantically between the stalls of the Farmers' Market. Should I get a case of apricots? What about currants? And the cherries?!? Where am I going to stash all of this? Will anyone can with me? Do I have time to make jam? Do I have a recipe for jam?!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a typical bout of market anxiety. Deep down, I know the benefits of buying these gorgeous, gorgeous fruit and veg from the local farmers. The problem is that the onslaught of brief Utah bounty is overwhelming. Given my personality, I want to do everything at once, the way a kid (i.e. a 6-year old me) wants everything in the candy store. My arms are full of chioggia beets, herbs, potatoes, Siberian garlic and then it hits me.
How the hell am I going to handle all of this food?
I hate waste. Guilt saturates every cell of my being when I find a shriveled bunch of carrots, the dried piece of L'Edel de Cleron cheese and the compost bag that was once spring mix. So every year, the goal is to waste less. Admittedly, I'm still working on canning/preserving. I like making jams, preserves and butters. But for whatever reason I have a fear the process of preservation. It's such a commitment. And labor.
But a few years ago, a friend who is a master canner, gardener and craftsperson divulged another preservation secret: The freezer. Minimal prep with the fairly instant gratification of seeing my freezer slowly building abundance for later in the year.
I freeze most everything. Grated zucchini. Fresh corn (more on that later). And especially fruit. Up now: garnet sweet Bing cherries. Yes, you will have to pit them. No, the process isn't that bad. Really, if you relish the mindless repetitive tasks of most cooking (i.e. therapy), pitting cherries with a contraption (very easy) or a shapr knife (still easy) is something nice to do on a sunny day on the porch or camped out at the dinner table, in full view of the T.V. and the "America's Next Top Model" marathon. I figure if I'm going to indulge in a guilty pleasure, I can simultaneously achieve some virtue.
I did manage to stow some away in the refrigerator. Hopefully they'll hold until I can get around to my grand plans (future posts) for Cherry Granita, Cherry Almond Cake and perhaps even Pickled Cherries. The latter would require some planning. I'm still afraid of canning...
By knife, it's easy. Wash and drain the cherries and have a sheet pan I stem them as I go. Then on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, I slice it in half, obviously not cutting through the pit. Think of it as a little avocado. Twist the scored fruit to get one seedless half and use your finger to pry the pit out from the other.
Place these onto the baking sheet (lined with parchment or in this case, foil, since I couldn't find the parchment paper). Place into the freezer and once it's hard through and through (I forget about it for an afternoon. They're small, so they don't take long. Overnight is fine, too). Then stash these into a tupperware. If you're like me and discover all your tupperware has disappeared (they must go where single socks go), a Ziploc Freezerbag is just fine.
Such a stash of frozen fruit is a salve for dreary winter days when cherry crisp or a warm cherry compote over ice cream is craved. No thawing really necessary. But if an errant bag has been relaxing out on the counter, it's no big deal.
NOTE: It is crucial to get the fruit in a single layer to feeze them individually before you throw them together. Otherwise, you'll spend a November day chipping away at a frozen tumor of cherries.