The migratory birds ate most of it; still they left about a hundred pounds of cherries on the tree. So now, it’s time to pick, eat, give away and to preserve. The cherries are lovely; no wonder the birds had a feast a couple of weeks ago. Jim was out there clapping and rattling stuff, but nothing would deter the bird invasion. I was laughing at the window, undeterred in the knowledge that I will have plenty of work left even if the birds gorge themselves on the half ripe fruit. Then yesterday I put the first batch to dry and made some jam. I will make more jam and jelly today then I may select one of the cherry recipes I have in the cherry folder… of course spending most of my time selecting and pitting cherries.

If sulphured, dry cherries hold their color and last longer, but I don’t make more than what we can eat within a year, besides I would rather not use sulphur. Consequently, my cherries look darker and their flavour resembles raisins more than cherries. However, they are excellent in a trail mix, homemade granola and in various baked goods.

• Select ripe blemish free cherries.
• Wash well in cold water and remove the stems.
• Remove the pits with a cherry pitter or cut each cherry in half removing the pit.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Arrange the pieces cut side up and set in oven at 160F until the tops look leathery.
• Reduce heat to 130F until done.
• If not ready, turn off heat and leave the cherries in the oven for the night. Resume the drying next morning, but watch it, because the cherries will dry quickly from that point on. Mine was finished within the first hour.
• The cherries will be still soft to the touch, but will harden up rather quickly.
• Transfer the cherries to a freshly lined tray immediately. Do not leave them on the original paper for any length of time, because they will stick to the parchment as they cool.
• The cherries should be hard and yet pliable, a little sticky and leathery. Squeezing them should produce no liquid.
• Let the cherries air dry and pack them into sterilized jars with well fitting lids.

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!