After the recent death of my beloved 11 year old dehydrator, I didn't know what I was going to do. We did manage to rescue the cherries it was trying to speed-rot and they're safely in the freezer for some cold winter day when I want fruit cobbler or cafloutie or something. Since then, though, I've been a bit distressed over the possible non-existance of cherry oatmeal cookies in December and cherry oatmeal and about a million other uses I could think of for dried cherries (plus the ones I eat straight out of the jar in the pantry, when no one is looking). I thought we were doomed to a cherry-less year. Booooo.
Be's dad happens to also own a food dehydrator (and a much cooler one than mine, I must say), and has managed to acquire it for the time being. There is hope! I was a little anxious when I pulled the fresh cherries from the back of the fridge (where I put them before the 4th of July ... eek!). I was afraid they would all be soft and moldy and the like. Much to my surprise, they are still absolutely perfect. There were a few in the smaller (older) bag that were a little challenged with soft spots and I believe one with a bit of fuzz. The larger bag (we're talking 10+ pounds of cherries) are still beautiful, sweet, crisp, like they just came off the tree perfect. Since I buy my cherries from a local orchard, I know what I'm experiencing is luck rather than chemical or radiation induced longevity. I'm so stoked!
So, this afternoon, I covered my knees with a ratty towel, donned a pair of vinyl gloves (because it makes the hand scrubbing so so so so much easier), and went about pitting my gorgeous cherries. I was planning on doing the whole lot, figuring on softies that I'd have to compensate for, but I decided to put the brakes on somewhere in the middle of the large bag. I put what I had in the borrowed dehydrator and slipped the rest back in the fridge for this weekend's snacky cravings. I now wait with baited breath for the signs that the dehydrator is working correctly. The tricky part is that you don't know it's screwing up until several hot air filled hours have passed. I will be monitoring closely in a determined attempt to salvage what I can of my cherry drying adventures.
Keep your fingers crossed this works. The world is just not the same without cherry oatmeal cookies, and I refuse to pay $4.99/lb for them.