Monday, September 12, 2011

Cherry Bounce

I found these chokecherries last week. 
I've been doing a little research about foraging and edible wild foods lately.
These shiny black, pea-sized charms were glistening at me as I was walking along in search of walnuts.  I didn't find any walnuts on that trip, but I did harvest about a gallons-worth of these little guys.

I felt like I'd hit the jack-pot!
But, what to do with them.
There are only so many of them, only enough for one recipe.  My choices were 1.)chokecherry wine, 2.) chokecherry jam, and 3.) Cherry Bounce.

The first option sounds the yummiest, but I'm not sure I'm up for two wine experiments in one year, (I've got my beet wine maturing downstairs, one still fermenting - or something).  The second option sounds good, only we're up to our eyeballs in jams and jellies.  I opt for the third as it's the easiest and surest. It also seems like it will make great gifts at Christmastime.  I got this recipe from "The Foraging Gourmet" by Katie Letcher Lyle.

Prunus virginiana

I washed them, stemmed half of them, and washed them a couple more times.  Once all the leaves and other nature-bits were removed, I just put them through the juicer.
The photo above is what it looked like after juicing.
Kinda gross, ha?
Purple foam.
Well, that's something new.
Oh, and another thing, these tiny little chokecherry stones bounce.  Everywhere.

Well, a little reading suggests that straining the juice will yield a clearer product. 
I read that today. 
Yesterday, however, I decided to cook it down, which worked out okay.  I still skimmed off a bit of foam, but not as much as in the third photo.

I ran the chokecherries through the juicer twice, yet I still felt they looked moist.  So I scooped up a spoonful at a time into a double layer of cheesecloth and squeezed.  And squeezed.  Don't worry, if you've been brave enough to get this far, you already know this is a very messy recipe.  Wear an apron.  Hopefully my photo shows how nice and clear this last process came out.  Virtually no foam!  So I just poured it through a strainer into the rest of the batch.

I added my 3 pounds of sugar, according to the recipe, heated it just a tad - only enough for the sugar to dissolve, and stirring all the while so as not to scorch the pan.
At this point I turned off the heat and let it cool a few hours.

I returned later to another surprise.  It was quite thick and ice-like.  Reminiscent of a thin layer frozen, then easily broken with your spoon.
Well, I just mixed it up with the gallon of whiskey and pint of brandy and it's been fine ever since.  It's apt to burn your nose hairs off, so tell hubby.

After two weeks of stirring once per day, pour into pretty bottles and store until Christmas, when it's ready to drink.

Cherry Bounce

Stem & Pick over 1 gallon wild cherries
Mash into crock (only 12-20 seeds)
Add 3 pounds sugar
1 gallon good whiskey
1 pint brandy
Cover tightly
Let stand 2 weeks in dark closet
Strain and bottle

Have fun foraging, friends.  And be careful,  a little bit of bounce goes a long ways!

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!