Summer Preserving Projects

My husband and I both delight in growing and preserving our own stuff, and July is a high month for that activity. Today’s post is about Joe’s projects. He saw something on Pinterest about making sour cherry brandy and as this is cherry season in Michigan, he found a local source and brought home 25 pounds.

It will be a several-week long project of daily stirring a mixture of cherries and sugar while the little red morsels bubble and ferment. The cheesecloth lid is designed to let the gases escape. Once the fermentation is done, he’ll strain it and add Everclear (100% alcohol!) and set it aside till Christmas.

cherries fermenting

I was forced to use up the remaining gallon or two of cherries so I made a pie and froze several bags of cherry pie filling for later. What an imposition to have to eat cherry pie!

The next big project was honey. Joe is a beekeeping mentor for the local college’s Agriculture program, and with the kids not on campus he had to extract the honey from the two hives without their help. I stepped in and played the supporting role, and we were a very efficient team. I was surprised that we pulled off almost six gallons of golden honey! We bottled it up today to give back to the program and hopefully they will be able to sell it to help support their projects.

We have several hives on the farm as well, and they are next on the schedule to get robbed. The process takes several hours in the heat because first you have to open each hive and select the frames that are full of honey capped with wax. Then you use a soft brush to knock the bees off the frame, quickly slide it into a box, and cover it with a towel so the bees don’t hop back on. We have three or four boxes of 10 frames on each hive, so this is a slow and tedious process. The bees do not like it, either, so we are both fully suited up to prevent them from showing us just how annoyed they are.

We haul the boxes back to the barn and quickly close all the doors so the bees do not find us and tell all their comrades about the hidden treasure. We then begin working like clockwork. Joe hands me a frame and I slice off the wax capping on both sides and drop two frames into the extractor. He cranks it and it spins like a centrifuge to spit the honey out onto the walls of the machine, then we pull the frames out, turn them over, and he cranks it again to empty out the other side.

Once all are done, we replace the emptied frames into the hive and the bees get busy making a second batch of honey which will keep them alive over the long winter months. Since we only remove the wax capping, they can reuse the cells without having to start over from scratch.

We drain all the honey into a special bucket with a faucet and a week later we pour it into jars like the ones we filled today. These are for my coffee and to give to friends. I’m not passionately attached to beekeeping, but I do really like having our own honey. As long as they are willing to do their part of the work, we will do what we can to support them.

About bluestempond

Hobby farmer living at Bluestem Pond in Michigan.
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2 Responses to Summer Preserving Projects

  1. michiganme says:

    So interesting. Your first pic with jars of cherries on the window sill looks like a painting…

  2. Ooh, cherry brandy! Holidays in a bottle! We can only hope that by then a gathering could be possible. You guys are amazing, so productive! 🍒🥃🎄



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