Then last summer, during our morning walk, I noticed the path was littered with fruit gunk. Looking up in idle curiosity, I was stunned to discover that we had been walking under sour cherry trees every day for seven years and I had never even noticed. Sour cherries are my central member of the fruit category. We had cherry trees in our yard when I was growing up, and we went to great lengths to pick (and pit!) the cherries for mom to make pie. But sour cherries just don't exist in the stores, so I hadn't had them for years.
We went back with ladders and picked quarts and quarts of the things. Handy tip for extending your reach when picking: bend a coat hanger so you can reach out with the hook to pull the branches closer to you.
I scoured recipe books and the Internet to decide what to make (aside from pie). Somewhere in my researches I happened across this post by the Yarn Harlot. Had never heard of her. Had never heard of knitting blogs. But was charmed by the writing and found a lot of useful information about cherries among the comments.
Still, it was another six months until I took up knitting again, and it wasn't even really the Yarn Harlot's fault I did. But it was indirect peer pressure. All the cool kids at work were knitting, and it looked like a fabulous thing to do during meetings. Then it was time for Christmas travels, when handwork is absolutely mandatory, so I bought some...crochet supplies. Crochet just seemed easier to manage. Easy to pick up and put down, no octopus wrestling. And it's all true. Crochet is very pleasing to do. I just couldn't like the results.
So I dug out the knitting needles and the leftover yarn. And wow, the Internet has changed everything. Knitting is so much more fun now. Everything you could want to learn. All the patterns your heart could desire. And smart, funny, wise, passionate people to help you along the way.
Cherry Harlotty Sherbet
(adapted from 1-2-3 Sherbet, from Arlene J Achterberg of Janesville WI - the original recipe called from strawberries, which are also very tasty)
4 cups fresh cherries, rinsed and pitted (More on pitting in a later post - short answer is Norpro Deluxe Cherry Stoner and dress to mess.)
1 1/2 cups sugar (The original recipe calls for 2 cups, but that was too sweet for me. If you're using very tart cherries, you might want to increase the sugar a little - whatever tastes good to you.)
2 cups buttermilk (I keep dry buttermilk on hand for baking, and that works just fine.)
an indefinable something else (With the ingredients above, the recipe is fantastic, even better than with the strawberries. However, it is not perfect. Which is odd, since the strawberry sherbet was perfect. But each fruit must be measured against its own standards, and my standards for cherries are very high. Preliminary tests suggest that almond extract or Amaretto is probably the missing ingredient when using cherries. I am also thinking of experimenting with toasted almonds, ground very fine. Please send me the results of any of your experiments.)
- Blend ingredients until smooth (I used a blender, but a food processor would probably work, too). Freeze until firm. The cherry skins will probably not be completely pureed, but I think they add some nice, subtle contrast. (Other family members think they're icky - ah well, more sherbet for me.)
- After the sherbet is frozen, break into chunks. Mash with a bean masher. (That's probably the ideal implement. I expect a pastry cutter would work, too. Or you might even be able to omit this step if you're using a standing mixer for the next step.)
- Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Freeze again until firm. According to Ms. Achterberg, this step is important for muting the buttermilk taste. I like buttermilk, so that wasn't a worry, but I do think this step is important for the texture.