Cherry Salsa
Cherry Salsa- Putting Up with ErinCherry Salsa- Putting Up with Erin

There’s no hiding how much I like spicy, salty, saucy things. When it comes to everyday hot sauce, I’m a 80% Sriracha kinda girl; 20% chunky fresh salsa kinda girl. A lot of people are tempted by sweet treats. My absolute biggest weakness is chips and salsa. They’ve ruined many a diet and stained many a white shirts… Alas, the first step is admitting my salsa addiction, right? Finishing up the last of my bounty from the Northwest Cherry Growers, I pulled out my good ol’ handy copy of Marisa McClellan’s Food In Jars for a little bit of inspiration. Not needing any more jams, jellies, or pickled cherries, I thumbed my way to the salsa and relish section. !!Bam!! peach salsa. Knowing I couldn’t hold out for my shipment of peaches later this summer, I decided to modify the recipe and substitute in 4 pounds of fresh cherries.

The result? A mildly tart and sweet cherry salsa, and a creative way to use up the rest of my stone fruit. I swore the beau off of buying any MORE jars of classic tomato salsa until we go through these 4 pints, which in reality will be next week… I’d be shocked if I actually get much of my share of salsa as it appears that afternoon chips and salsa has become quite the norm around here. I’m going to try dousing some of my grilled chicken nachos with a jar of this ASAP! For those of you that don’t own a copy of Food in Jars (gasp!), I have summarized up the recipe modification below. Salud!

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Cherry’melon Shrub
Cherry'melon Shrub- Putting Up with ErinCherry'melon Shrub- Putting Up with Erin

CherryPalooza! Today’s feature? Cherry’melon shrub with fresh lemon verbena. Taking a break to say “hi” as I work my way through the 18lbs of fresh cherries from the lovelies over at North West Cherry Growers and the Washington State Fruit Commission. Check out last week’s homemade maraschino cherries and stay tuned for a couple more CherryPalooza recipes. I’ve never been quite much of a fan of melons, but the American holiday July 4th just screams watermelon. Watermelon is the only melon I can actually tolerate.

Shrubs have became my new favorite way answer to both preserves fruit and livening up a simple cocktail. For a delicious and bright flavored summer shrub using the cold shrub method, I tossed together a couple pounds of cherries, watermelon, and some fresh lemon verbena picked from my garden. For a tasty refreshing cocktail, try a summer take on a classic Americano, recipe below. Cheers!!

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Pickled Watermelon RindPickled Watermelon Rind- Putting Up with ErinPickled Watermelon Rind- Putting Up with Erin

Maybe I’m not alone here, but as a canner/pickler I often get the question, “Erin, why don’t you try pickling this!?” The majority of the time I’m fully up for the challenge. Sometimes I tend to put it off, because either it sounds weird, or I’m just not interested in having 6 pints of something I’m not so into on my shelf. Case and point, preserved lemons, a friend suggested it, I put it off, I finally got around to it, they were weird, I tossed them after 3mos, end of story. Years ago while going through the kitchy colonial Williamsburg, VA, I tasted pickled watermelon rind. Upon 1st taste, the sweet, candy like watermelon rind pickle repelled me. Not surprisingly, literally 1 week a later, again a friend propositioned me, “Hey have you ever made pickled watermelon rind?” Nope! Six years later here we are. Last weekend as I was shopping for the 4th of July I grabbed a large watermelon. We didn’t get around to eating it on the day, so I figured it was time.

I got a bit caught up during my research as I wanted to cut down on the sugar while at the same time make them safe to can. Most recipes that I found were for quick fridge pickles with varying amounts of sugar. Other watermelon rind pickle recipes meant for canning had higher sugar content. I went with a  slight modification/addition on Paula Dean’s recipe by adding 2 jalapeño peppers (seeds in). I found that it took quite a while for the rinds to turn translucent. The result: a sweet, salty, spicy watermelon pickle with a slight gummy candy consistency. Enjoy!

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Maraschino Cocktail CherriesMaraschino Cocktail Cherries-Putting Up with ErinMaraschino Cocktail Cherries-Putting Up with Erin

Every June I receive the best FedEx shipment ever: 18lbs of fresh cherries. For the past three years I have participated as a canbassador for the Washington State Fruit Commission. Free fresh fruit… multiple blog posts… duh!? I deem the next few cherry posts CherryPalooza!

Up first: boozie cherries! Specifically, Luxardo Maraschino liquor soaked cherries. You’ve probably seen canned Luxardo “original” Maraschino Cherries in your local liquor store before. Like the store bought cocktail cherries, these are cherries are sweet, booze soaked, and oh so good. Unlike store bought maraschino cherries, these cherries only contain cherries, booze, sugar, lemon, and a few spices. No citric acid, no glucose, no other flavors! I slightly modified a recipe I found over at the Will Cook for Friends blog.  I plan on using these cocktail cherries plus their liquid in homemade cocktails.

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