Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Kizilcik Peltesi
Sour Cherry Jelly
In Turkey, this deep red jelly is made with the cornelian cherry, native to Europe and West Asia. In Rufai dergahs, pelte is traditionally served on Regaib kandili, the anniversary of the conception of the Prophet, as a symbol of the bond between this world and the next.
Juice preparation: 15 minutes
Straining: 3+ hours
Total time: 30 minutes
Processing (optional): 15 minutes
2 lbs. sour cherries (Cornelian, Montmorency, or other varieties)
Approximately 3 cups sugar

Put the cherries in a saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer. Mash them lightly so that the juice runs freely, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Place a strainer over a bowl and line it with double layers of damp cheesecloth. Strain the juice without squeezing or mashing the cherries. Let the cherries sit in the strainer for at least 3 hours, or as long as overnight, in order to extract as much clear juice as possible. (The cherry pulp is still flavorful and can be saved — without pits, of course — to enrich a lamb stew.)

Measure out the cherry juice, then pour it back into the saucepan and add an equal volume of sugar. Bring to a hard boil and continue to boil for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly, the foam subsides, and the sound of the boil changes to a deeper "slurping" sound. (If you have a jelly thermometer, use it — the juice should reach 221F.) Turn off the heat and let the jelly rest for a minute, then skim off any impurities that have risen to the top, and pour the jelly into a clean quart jar. For long-term storage, pour the jelly into four sterilized half-pint canning jars, cover with new canning lids and rings, and put in boiling water higher than the tops of the jars by at least an inch. Process the jars for 10 minutes, then remove them from the water. The lids will snap down as they cool; the jelly can then be stored for a year in a cool, dark place.

Kizilcik Peltesi can be eaten with a spoon, spread on bread, or diluted with cold water and served over ice as a sherbet.