It's cherry pickin' time in the Pacific Northwest and my DD has access to a cherry orchard and picked 2 very full grocery bags of bing cherries for me.
They are so fresh you can see that the stems are still green. I estimate that each bag weighs about 10-12 lbs. I was dreading the process of pitting because I have 2 single pitters, and even with DH's help, it is a long and tedious process. I decided to run to town yesterday and see if I could find a more efficient tool for this task. Success! At Fred Meyer, I found this nifty pitter. It is important not to stem the cherries before you are ready to use them because they will rot. You just load up the hopper with washed and stemmed cherries.You can see my washed cherries on the left, the hopper with cherries, and the bowl on the right that the pitted cherries pop into. Then, just push the plunger and out comes your pitted cherry. The pits are disposed of in a little container of the other side of the unit. This little gadget saved me so much time and back ache! It was well worth the $20 and as my DH says, never pass up a tool you can use.
I processed one bag yesterday and was able to put up 14- 1/2 pint jars of cherry jam and 9 pints of cherry sauce. If you have never made cherry jam, try it. It is absolutley delicious and you may have a new favorite. For the cherry sauce, which is great over ice cream, cheesecake, or pancakes, I was using a Danish Cherry Sauce recipe from my Ball Blue book, when I realized that the almond extract that the recipe called for, had all evaporated out of the tiny bottle. So, no almond extract in the sauce and it is still delicious. I thickened the sauce with Clear Jel. I just used a lesser amount the the recipe called for in cherry pie on the Clear Jel label, plus I added some lemon juice.I doubled the recipe so used 6 lbs. of cherries just for the sauce.