Finally I can check an item off my to-do list! Since last winter when reading David Lebowitz’s blog, I’ve been wanting to make brandied cherries. Alas, fresh cherries are hard to come by in winter. But Saturday at the U District Farmers’ Market I picked up 3 pounds of Bing beauties. Luckily the cherry guy said that they keep for a few days in the frig because I didn’t get around to them on Saturday.
There are several methods for making this cherry madness. One blog I read swears by using dried cherries even! I wanted to try the french method from the Joy of Cooking “All About Canning and Preserving”, which is slightly suspect to me because it involves no processing to seal the jars – you are basically just steeping the cherries in booze and sugar. They claim no processing is needed because the alcohol will kill any contaminants. I also want to try a regular hot water bath processing recipe to compare final products. That’s more time-consuming and labor intensive, and not what I had time for yesterday.
First things first: pretty jars. I got these at Storables, gift-sized Anchor Hocking jars. The recipe says you don’t have to sterilize them, but I did wash them in hot soapy water. IF I did sterilize them (and for us dishwasher-unenabled, that means in boiling water) I would remove the rubber gaskets first.
The Joy of Cooking recipe does not specify pitting, but since it says to trim the stems to 1/2″, that would make pitting a little tricky. It also doesn’t say to wash them, but I did. A note here: there is a recipe for brandied apricots in the book also, which uses water AND alcohol, and it says you have to process those jars because of the water. Since I washed the cherries, I was nervous about introducing water into the mix and tried to dry them off as best I could.
Then you basically just pack these babies into the jars, add some sugar and brandy to cover! Holy crap, it smelled good. Then you let them sit in a dark, cool room for 2 months so the flavors meld. It also recommends that you swirl the jars a few times the first month to dissolve the sugar. 3 pounds of cherries (minus maybe 1/2 pound of rejects) and two bottles of brandy filled my 8 small jars…
And drat, wouldn’t you know, I had some leftovers. So those went into this jar.
THIS jar has THANKSGIVING written all over it. And by that I mean SIDECARS/MANHATTANS. In case you were wondering what one does with brandied cherries.