Consider this a disclaimer for the Merlot-hue your kitchen counters are about to come in contact with: The mark of a good cherry is one that will stain your tea towels.

I once pitted about five pounds of cherries by hand (don't ask why) and the undersides of my fingertips were a shade of deep-red that put up a good fight against an indefinite amount of soap. Yet although a mess to work with, I think this sweet stone fruit could make even the most obsessive of clean-o-phobes put aside their eccentricities. Those who would rather keep their hands clean can enjoy what the orchards have to offer from the convenience of a farmers' market.

Try this recipe from Can It You Nit! with the last of the season's harvest: Cherry Preserves

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups pitted cherries (about 2.5 pounds cherries at the market)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or substitute 1 cup raw sugar, whichever your preference)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

  1. Pit cherries and remove stems. Now if you don't have a cherry pitter (neither do I), don't fret. You can practice your knife skills and cut the pit out just as you would hull a strawberry. Though, I think this is tedious and all together a waste of time. What I do is slice two "halves" from the cherry, and discard the center slice which would now contain the pit and stem. See:

  1. Place all your cherry "halves" in a medium saucepan (a 2-3 quart one works). Add one cup of water, which should just about cover the cherries. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once water is boiling, add the sugar and lemon juice. Turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Ladle into clean, sterilized jars. Process by water-bath canning method for 15 minutes or refrigerate.

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