Cherry Preserves at the Cherry Festival

You have probably heard of „Urban Gardening“ or of projects that let you rent or buy a piece of land or an allotment and grow your own vegetables. A very practical option if you don't have your own garden and your balcony is too small - particularly for a tree. So I was delighted when last April, I received my very own cherry tree for my birthday - well, a tree sponsorship, rather.

I met landscape architect Andrea Schubert, who takes care of the trees and the sponsorships (more information can be found on her website Kirsch'me) last year at a Feldküche event, when I had to cook for 50 people. Since then, we've met up several times for some nice food and wine and made plans to do something together. One of those plans was to make jam on location at the cherry tree harvest festival. Of course we experimented a little bit in order to produce and be able to offer a new flavour among the wide variety of cherry preserves out there.

An amazing 1756 cherry trees grow on the Schubert family's plot of land in Schrattenthal. The trees are 25 years old. Andrea told me that in the olden days, the cherries would be harvested and sold the very next day on the local food markets. Most of the cherries today are imported from Turkey or Italy and can therefore be sold much earlier in the season than regionally grown ones, so unfortunately local farmers eventually couldn't compete anymore. One of the deciding factors was personnel - in order to care for and harvest cherry trees, quite a bit of personnel is needed and this ceased to be economical a while back. Which is a shame because I have never eaten cherries that delicious and sweet as the ones from Schrattenthal.

Of course this wasn't enough for Andrea – an incredibly energetic and motivated woman – and after she saw the garden lie idle for a while, came up with an idea of how else to utilize the trees - and individual sponsorship was born. For just 28 euros per year, you can lease your own cherry tree. And you're invited to the wonderful cherry blossom celebration in April (includes cake!) as well as the harvest festival in June. Each tree yields around 3-4kg of cherries - enough for delicious cherry preserves, tartes and cakes for the entire family.

And that's exactly what I did last Sunday at the cherry festival. Industrious fruit pickers brought me almost 10kg from my own and other people's trees. Then it was time to stone them. Thank God I had help doing this considering the number of cherries! And finally, the fruit was cooked on Grandma Schubert's old stove: a very rustic experience! We have one of those old stoves at home in our ancient Bregenzerwald mountain cabin.

There are numerous cherry preserve recipes on the internet and many people have inherited one from their grandmothers, so Andrea and I wanted to create something new and orginial. The result: cherry preserves with rosemary and lemon balm, respectively, and fine Sonnentor-Gewürzen (spice mixes). Both recipes are featured below.

Talented photographer Julia Stix, who has taken all of my press images, came to visit us at the cherry festival and took these beautiful images. I've got another project with her in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

... And you absolutely HAVE to visit Schrattenthal, if you can - a very pretty, picturesque little town. I was particularly in love with the Schubert's 600 year-old estate and castle, Schloss Schrattenthal. I wouldn't mind staying here for a while. The castle (with some cherry) is even available for weddings, by the way: you can't get any more idyllic than that!

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Cherry Preserves with Rosemary 

Ingredients for about 6 small jam jars:

1kg cherries

1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary (adjust the amount according to taste)

1 tsp SONNENTOR Süßes Zaubergewürz (spice mix with cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon)

200g 2:1 preserving sugar

100g granulated sugar

juice of one lemon

1 dash of rum

Preparation:

1.) Wash and pit the cherries (there are tools for this; see cooking tip). Wash, pick and finely chop the rosemary.

2.) Put the cherries in a big pot and cook, covered with a lid, over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the rosemary and other spices. After the 20-30 minutes are up, mix in the sugar and lemon juice and cook until the mass begins to thicken and glisten (around another 15-20 minutes).

3.) Fill the jam into jars, close with a lid and use within 7 days.

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Cherry Preserves with Lemon Balm 

Ingredients for about 6 small jam jars: 

1kg cherries

1 handful of fresh lemon balm (to taste)

1 bag of SONNENTOR Gewürzpyramide für fruchtige Kompositionen (spice mix for fruit dishes)

200g 2:1 preserving sugar

100g granulated sugar

juice of one lemon

1 dash of rum

Preparation:

1.) Wash and pit the cherries (there are tools for this; see cooking tip). Wash, shake dry, pick and finely chop the lemon balm.

2.) Put the cherries in a big pot and cook, covered with a lid, over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the lemon balm and spice mix. After the 20-30 minutes are up, mix in the sugar and lemon juice and cook until the mass begins to thicken and glisten (around another 15-20 minutes).

3.) Remove the bag with spices and fill the jam into jars, close with a lid and use within 7 days.

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Cherry Preserves
6 small jam jars

Ingredients:

Ingredients for Cherry Preserves with Rosemary

  • 1kg cherries
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary (adjust the amount according to taste)
  • 1 tsp SONNENTOR Süßes Zaubergewürz (spice mix with cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon)
  • 200g 2:1 preserving sugar
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 dash of rum

 

Ingredients for Cherry Preserves with Lemon Balm

  • 1kg cherries
  • 1 handful of fresh lemon balm (to taste)
  • 1 bag of SONNENTOR Gewürzpyramide für fruchtige Kompositionen (spice mix for fruit dishes)
  • 200g 2:1 preserving sugar
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 dash of rum

Preparation:

Preparation for Cherry Preserves with Rosemary

  1. Wash and pit the cherries (there are tools for this; see cooking tip). Wash, pick and finely chop the rosemary.
  2. Put the cherries in a big pot and cook, covered with a lid, over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the rosemary and other spices. After the 20-30 minutes are up, mix in the sugar and lemon juice and cook until the mass begins to thicken and glisten (around another 15-20 minutes).
  3. Fill the jam into jars, close with a lid and use within 7 days.

Preparation for Cherry Preserves with Lemon Balm

  1. Wash and pit the cherries (there are tools for this; see cooking tip). Wash, shake dry, pick and finely chop the lemon balm.
  2. Put the cherries in a big pot and cook, covered with a lid, over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the lemon balm and spice mix. After the 20-30 minutes are up, mix in the sugar and lemon juice and cook until the mass begins to thicken and glisten (around another 15-20 minutes).
  3. Remove the bag with spices and fill the jam into jars, close with a lid and use within 7 days.