I decided I was going to definitely get bang for my buck from my cherry purchases. (My hubby laughs a this because he says I probably got the best cherry price in years and I still need to feel like I've gotten my moneys worth out of them....well, um yes of course I do!)
As I was pitting the cherries I was tossing the pits into a bowl and I was looking at the mountain of pits thinking there had to be something I could do with them. This is what started this whole adventure!
They have a unique ability to absorb and hold heat and make wonderful heating pad filling! A cotton bag filled with clean, dry cherry pits heated up in the microwave is a wonderful relaxation tool! Relax muscles, menstrual cramps, inflamed joints etc. They can also be put into the freezer and be used cold in place of an ice pack! I haven't sewed anything for them to go into yet, thus no picture. I will post one when I get a chance to use the dried pits.
When you are done pitting the cherries, take the bucket of pits left behind and put into a pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil. Boil for at least 10 minutes to kill the seeds and ensure they are clean. However, see below for reasons to boil them even longer!! I boiled them for about 20 minutes, then I put in fresh water and boiled for another 15 minutes or so. (Keep the water!).
Rinse under the tap, removing any leftover cherry bits on them. Spread them out in single layer on a cookie sheet and put in the oven (or in a dehydrator) at 170 F for about an hour.
Sew into a bag/pillow and enjoy!
Cherry Pit Water
You will notice it's a glorious purple colour! The moment I saw this, I knew I had to try to do something with it! Cherry Syrup!
When the pits are finished boiling, strain them, but catch the water in a bowl underneath. Place in a pot on the stove, add sugar (amount depends on how much liquid you have and how sweet you like things), and boil. It will eventually reduce and become thicker. I did add some xanthan gum to the first batch (by removing a small amount in a cup and mixing it into that and then adding back to the pot), and I found I thickened it too much, so my second batch I didn't add any and I added the already thickened syrup back to the pot. It turned out perfectly! I'm pretty sure you could do it without thickening any of it though. I probably could have added less sugar too as it's a very sweet syrup. But I'm sure my 2 year old will love it on his pancakes :) I used the water from boiling the same pits. It seemed just as strong after the second boil as it did the first! I was left with approx. 2 cups of yummy yummy syrup that will keep for a long time in the fridge (due to the high sugar content).
They make a wonderful tea! Note of Caution: It is a diuretic tea, so consume cautiously!
Set aside on a sheet of newspaper for 4 -7 days to dry. Store in an airtight container. When you want some tea, place a handful in some water (about a liter). Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for another 10 minutes. Remove the stems. You will get almost 5 teacups per liter. Can be enjoyed cold or hot, sweetened or unsweetened. Your choice!
Now that I feel like I have used up every bit that I can, I'm satisfied...and quite proud of myself too! I'd say I got my $40 worth :)