Hansen’s Cherry Sauce


Do you remember when you were little how the sun would still be out when your parents put you to bed in the summer? I recall lying on my small skinny bed with the springy coils next to the open window, waiting to fall asleep. It would get dark, and I would still be up, looking out the window at the night sky. I remember hearing the sounds from our town a few blocks away: muscle cars revving their engines outside a bar, people laughing and yelling, bottles breaking. It’s a very vibrant memory in my mind, one that comes back to me all the time. Those sounds of the world outside of my little life were so exciting, and I didn’t even know why. I didn’t realize then that I was listening to some punks outside of a seedy Long Island bar, circa late ’70s. To me it was more exotic than anything I could think of.

For some strange reason, linked to this memory of late-night bar rabble sounds is Kermit the Frog singing It’s Not Easy Being Green. I think I had a dream with Kermit in it, and then woke to the bar sounds. I feel like there’s something in this about the wistfulness of that song paired with the wondering about other people’s lives, through the lens of a child’s eye. The longing for something more exciting has always rumbled in my interior. I often–still— get the feeling that I should be somewhere else, somewhere more exciting. The reality is that I really like where I am, and truth be told, where I am is often filled with discoveries that I might not realize living the gypsy’s life that I sometimes long for. I’ve been living in this area now off and on for 25 years (more on than off) and I am still amazed by the things I find. Of course, some of those things are in my backyard, my literal back yard, the property I actually planted! And they still surprise me!

Like these three little Hansen’s cherry bushes that I planted years ago, and moved a few times, and never got a cherry from. Finally, giving up on them, I moved them into a cluster by the stream and gave up. This year they put out such a huge load of cherries, I couldn’t even believe it. It has been a banner year for all cherries. Which is nice because I can’t remember when I was overloaded with cherries. Ends up that although they are gorgeously translucent red, looking just like choice little rubies, their pits are pretty big in comparison to their flesh. They are super tart with a good cherry flavor, closer to sour cherries than sweet. The best thing to do in these cases, is to cook them off and pass them through a food mill. Then add to that pulpy mixture sugar to your liking and boil hard until it reduces to a thick sauce. I canned this and hope to add it to some apple sauce come fall. I think it will also find its way into smoothies, and maybe even a sauces for roasted pork.

Hansen’s Cherry Sauce

yields 2 pints

3 pounds of cherries

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Sugar to taste, about 1.5 to 2 cups of sugar

Put cherries in a pot with scant water (about 1/4 cup). Boil to soften the fruit enough to mill. Pass through food mill to remove pits. You will have about four cups of puree. Add the rest of the ingredients, start with the smaller amount of sugar and taste. Boil about ten or fifteen minutes, until thickened and slightly glossy. Process in a water bath for ten minutes.


  1. Another fruit I’ve never tried! I just looked them up and saw that they can do well Zones 2-8. The USDA says I’m in Zone 9B, which explains something about why we don’t see them. That feeling you described, though? I had that, too. Your writing evokes it so beautifully.

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