Monday, July 21, 2008

Dried Cherries

On Sunday, I went into Swartz Creek to the local farmer's market to pick up some cherries and blueberries. I decided to dry the cherries to have on hand in the fall and winter for pork dishes and maybe some baking. I only bought a quart of Michigan cherries, which only yields about a cup and a half (maybe 2 cups, I didn't measure, just eyeballed it) of dried cherries. So I'm hoping to make another trip next week to pick up another quart or two. Dried cherries, or fruit of any kind really, are such a tasty addition to pork roasts, pork chops, and pork loins. They're also very tasty to eat just by themselves, but I'm hoping to be able to save these for my intended purpose of cooking with them.

I don't have a food dehydrator yet - I've been looking for a good deal on one on CraigsList for awhile now and I think I may be getting one on Tuesday if it turns out to be as nice in person as it sounds. So for this batch of cherries, I used my normal oven. I have one of those Maytag Gemini ovens, its a free-standing range, but has two separate ovens. A small one on top (the size of the drawer on the bottom of a normal oven) and a regular sized oven on the bottom. I used the smaller top one as it takes less energy to maintain the temperature. I preheated the oven to 170, my lowest heat setting, but I've read that others have done this on 200, which was their lowest heat setting. I then pitted all of the cherries by running a paring knife around the cherry and peeling it apart. I put all of the pitted cherries onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the oven basically all day and into the night. It took mine about 9.5 hours, but depending on your heat setting and your oven, I've read it can take as little as 5 hours and as many as 12 hours. I then just shut the oven off and left the baking sheet in the oven overnight to dry them up a little more. This morning, I put them into a plastic Ziploc storage bag for the time being until I can get a half-pint canning jar cleaned tonight. Then I'll transfer them to that and store them in the pantry.

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