From bush to jelly in 82 easy steps

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I woke up yesterday determined to pick some of the Nanking cherries that were ripe and glowing on the bushes. It turns out that picking these beautiful red fruits on a beautiful summer morning requires no determination. Simply being out there with the dogs, eating a few cherries for every few I picked, was a peaceful and enjoyable way to start the day.
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I was so inspired that from there, I went and picked some of the black-cap raspberries that are growing wild (read: taking over) by the pool house (read: rustic shed). That was a little less peaceful, but the scratches all over my arms and legs are worth it. I’m combining them with strawberries and making a cobbler. My stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.

The raspberries yielded a quart and a half, and the Nanking cherries yielded 2 and a half quarts, by the time I decided there were other things I might need to do besides picking fruit. The cherries are incredibly tiny, so other than eating them fresh and pulping or juicing them, the eating options are limited–there’s no way I’m going to pit them, ever. I found a recipe online for jelly, and figured, “Why not?”

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I then proceeded to dirty every dish in the kitchen, along with dish towels, counter tops, and cabinets.

At least it’s a beautiful color.

This was not the recipe’s fault, but mine, as I kept waffling about what exactly I was going to do with the four and a half cups of juice the cherries yielded. I finally landed on a jelly recipe on the Pomona’s Pectin box (see the box for instructions for jelly from juice). My jelly is clouded, because I couldn’t be bothered to strain the juice through cheesecloth, but it tastes wonderful. I used a half cup of honey with four cups of the juice, and the final jelly is tart-sweet. We’ll look forward to saving some for the winter, when its brightness will be wanted.

Picking fruit. Making jelly. Roasting chickens. Making chicken stock. Life is slow right now, which feels right after a momentous change. I’m enjoying the steps in making and preserving things, and the opportunity to focus on minutiae, after the grand scope of uprooting my life, is good.
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