nanking cherry bushes so I went out to investigate. Sure enough, the cherries were turning red and it was time to get the bushes covered. Our bushes have gotten tall enough that I now have to 'sew' two 14ft wide nets together with twistie ties before I drape them over the bushes. I also have to be sure that the net is secured to the ground at all points or the intrepid robins find their way in.
Earlier this week I noticed that a robin had found its way under the net but couldn't get out. When I went to help it out, I found that most of the cherries were bright red and juicy... it was time to harvest! :) The kids and I spent a couple of hours harvesting and got 3 ice cream buckets from 3.5 bushes. I have to harvest the remaining bushes yet, but my fridge can only hold so many ice cream buckets so I spent time processing cherries into juice and then into jelly. We love nanking cherry jelly/jam and syrup in our home and since we have syrup left from last year, I made jelly.
First step: Remove the juice from the fruit.
1. Wash and remove debris.
Note: If you are looking for a clear, county fair blue ribbon product, you will want to strain the juice trough several layers of cheese cloth to remove the pulp. I love the texture the pulp gives to the jelly and syrup. I also cannot imagine wasting any of the fruit, so we mash out as much pulp as we can.
Second Step: Turn the juice into jelly.
Nanking Cherry Jelly
4 c juice
2 c sugar
1 pkg powdered pectin
Third step: Label and store in a cool dry location.
And that is it! What is better than turning the fruits of your labor into something that your whole family will enjoy for months to come!
Happy Gardening and Preserving! :D