Cherries are on sale at Fred Meyer's for $1.68 a pound. I bought thirty dollar's worth.
Peaches and nectarines are also $1.68 a pound. But I've promised myself to process all the cherries first. This prospect is made a whole lot easier by the fact that I splurged on a pressure canner this morning. It was relatively cheap, is something I've been wanting to buy for years now, and holds 7 quart jars. Last night saw a huge mess as I tried (and succeeded) to hot water bath can quart jars in a pot that only allowed a bare 2 inches of room above the tops of the jars. Keeping it boiling right at the tip top of the pot of water meant that the overspilling water put out the gas flame of the burner a few times.
Last night I canned three quarts of cherries for pies this winter. The evening before I stained my fingers crimson (maroon? claret?) pitting said cherries. Tonight will see more of the same, but with a pressure canner! Wheeee! And then? I'll probably buy more, and peaches. And nectarines. Nectarines make amazing pie.
Of that thirty dollars worth of cherries, I figure that I've eaten at least five dollars worth. Between the 3 quarts, and two and a half quarts of cherry liquer (more on this later - I'm getting super into making fancy spirits!), I think I've used about half of what I bought. Twenty five dollars divided by six quarts equals $4.16/quart. And they taste better than anything I've ever found at the store
Through out the winter, I make pies regularly. I haven't baked (bread or muffins or cookies or etc) regularly the last few years, but pies! Pies are a constant in my winter kitchen. There is little that is more lovely than taking a jar of home preserved pie filling off the shelf and pouring it into a rolled out crust. Cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines. This year I hope to add wild blueberries and raspberries to the list.
I did some math in my head as I was walking out of the grocery store with thirty dollars' worth of cherries:
Piecrust is flour butter salt and water. The organic Fairhaven mill flour I buy comes out to about a dollar for a pie crust, the Organic Valley butter I buy comes to about a dollar for a pie. So, $2 plus a pinch of salt plus home preserved cherries at $4.16 plus maybe a splash of vanilla extract and some sugar equals $7 for a really really good pie. Maybe not the cheapest thing in the world, but equal to the cost of one slice at Wolf Run or two slices at Hill Top, its a pretty good deal! Besides which, winter apples sell for $2.49 a pound. Which puts an apple pie at $8 dollars or more.
Oh, the math that goes through my head!