Two of my favorite things: local, sustainably-grown fruit, that I get to pick myself, while spending quality time with my sweetie, on a rare and gorgeous sunny summer day, and… booze. A match made in heaven!
Adapted from Brandied Cherries in The Glass Pantry by Georgeanne Brennan
- 4 lbs cherries (sweet, tart or sour)
- 1 cup sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
- 1/4 cup filtered water
- 4 cups brandy, rum, Cointreau, or other liquor
- Sterilize 4 glass pint jars and lids (run through the dishwasher, heat in a 250 degree F oven, or submerge in boiling water for 15 minutes). Keep jars hot until ready to fill.
- Wash and pit the cherries, reserving about 1/4 of the pits. Transfer 1 lb of cherries to the bowl of a food processor and process until puréed; add to a medium stockpot with water and sugar. Tie the reserved pits into a small square of cheesecloth and add to the stockpot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, lower heat and cook slowly until a thick syrup forms, about 15 minutes. Stir in the brandy, or other alcohol, and keep on the heat at a very low simmer.
- Fill hot jars with pitted cherries; tap down into the jar, but do not tightly pack; leave a generous 1/2-inch of headspace. Pour the cherry syrup-liquor mixture over the cherries, covering the topmost cherries and leaving about a 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles with the handle of a wooden spoon; adjust headspace with additional liquid if necessary. Wipe rims, affix lids, and screw on the band to fingertip tight. Allow to rest at room temperature until the jars seal. Store in a cool, dark spot for at least 1 month before use.
Yields 4 pints of booze-addled cherries.
- What to make with your drunken cherries? Well, drunken cherry pie, of course!
- I made two pints with spiced rum and two pints with Cointreau because I did not have any brandy in the house. I’ve since made a pint with amaretto and one with bourbon. You could even check out the local booze distilled by Tuthilltown Spirits. Feel free to experiment!
- This recipe does not call for any processing in a boiling water bath; the heat of the syrup should seal the Ball jars, and the alcohol should prevent any spoilage. If you want to be doubly sure, you could process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- The original recipe suggested to pit only 1 lb of the cherries, leaving the other 3 lbs whole, with stems & pits, to sit in the brandy and soak it up. This is probably a nice option if you intend to serve these cherries with drinks; in a fancy martini or a grown up Shirley Temple. As I will more likely add them to salads or roasts, top cakes or tarts, or put on a cheese tray, the pitted-stemmed version seemed much easier. You can do either way.
Store jars for at least 1 month, in a cool dark place, prior to using. Cherries will keep for up to 1 year. Once opened, refrigerate.