Let’s set aside how ridiculous is seems for me, after the past ten days—a sticky stretch of picking, pitting, freezing, and cooking roughly two gallons (!) of sweet, sweet cherries from my own backyard—to actually buy a quart at yesterday’s Collingswood Farmer’s Market.
These are different.
These are sour cherries.
And as of 10:30 this morning, Father’s Day, they’re now suspended in light syrup, waiting for their jars to cool enough for me to bubble-wrap and box them up—along with a jar of the cherry-rhubarb butter I made Thursday—for a UPS trip to the Northwoods.
Sorry they’ll be a little late, Pop. But I hope these beauties kick this summer’s Brandy Old Fashioneds* (and Manhattans) to greater heights.
Over the past six or seven years, I’ve experimented with just about every permutation of boozy cherries (sweet or sour fruit, Cognac, aged rum, Bourbon, Luxardo). Sweet cherries tend to leach their color into the syrup, leaving you with ghostly (but tasty) globes. I didn’t much care for the whiskeyed and brandied versions—the cherries seemed more prone to breaking down—and while the rummed-up ones were delicious, that unique flavor limited their use, since I tend to drink more Bourbon- and Rye-based cocktails than rum. So sours and Luxardo. That’s where I’ve settled. But you should feel free to tinker to your own tastes.
- 1 dry quart sour cherries
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup Luxardo or other cherry liqueur
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
Prep 1-1/2 pints’ worth of jars for boiling-water canning (if you need a refresher, see Marisa’s step-by-step guide).
Wash and pit the cherries, picking out any that are obviously moldy, severely bruised, or damaged by birds.
In a large bowl, toss the cherries lightly with the sugar, and let them macerate for 15 minutes or so.
Carefully port them into a saucepan and add the Luxardo and lemon juice. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are slightly soft and the syrup has thickened a bit.
Ladle the cherries into the prepared, hot jars, leaving about a half-inch of headspace.
Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Cool on a folded towel for several hours before you check the seals. If any failed, refrigerate, and use those first.
Enjoy as a garnish in your favorite cocktail or atop ice cream and/or pound cake. I expect you won’t have to work hard to find a use for the leftover syrup, either.
*Beware: If you order an “Old Fashioned” in Wisconsin, chances are, they’ll bring you a Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet. I made this mistake once. It’s crazy sweet. Just like “regular” coffee in New England. I made that mistake once, too.