I read in a jam book about using the kernels inside cherry pits to add a maraschino flavor to jams and preserves. And I've also been fantasizing about white cherries and vanilla in a jam... so here it goes!
White cherries are notoriously overpriced- anywhere from $4.99 - $7.99 a pound at farmer's markets and grocery stores. I got mine by picking my parent's tree-- nothing beats three pounds of cherries for FREE. Some farms will let you U-pick cherries- so you'd get a better price per pound.
White Cherry Vanilla Preserves
Makes 4-6 half pint jars
Sterilize 6 half pint jars. Get ready fresh lids for the 6 jars.
Wash and pit 3 lbs cherries (stemmed and pitted- approx 8 C). I used white cherries (queen anne, or rainier). You could also use dark sweet cherries (like bing). Sidenote: I love my Push Button Cherry pitter (call the phone number on this website and arrange a mailing, then pay by check) which I got for $9.95 including shipping - I can pit 3 lbs of cherries in less than 10 minutes!! Another reason to love: it is a small device as it sits on top of a small mouth canning jar- meaning less storage space.
Using a towel and a hammer, smash a few of the cherry pits on a cutting board. Remove the white inner kernel from inside the cherry pit. Do this until you have 1 TB of cherry pit kernels. Roughly chop the kernels, then place in a tea strainer.
|From left to right: white inner kernels from inside cherry pits; queen anne cherry, pits.|
Put cherries in saucepan with a splash of water. Bring to a boil, stirring & crushing fruit a little bit. Place the cherry pit kernel tea strainer in the pan.
Add 1 C sugar and stir to dissolve
Add 1/4 C lemon juice. Scrape the seeds from 1 vanilla bean into the mixture and stir. Don't worry if they clump at first-- the 20 minutes of simmering will make them spread out.
Cook for 20 minutes, until reaches desired gel.
Turn off heat, let rest 5 minutes.
Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean, seal with lids.
Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.