Bourbon-Preserved Sour Cherries

July 1, 2015 | By | More

preserved sour cherries

“Abra, abra-cadabra….I wanna reach out and grab ya…” I sang softly to myself on a rainy Saturday while pitting sour cherries against a soundtrack of insidious earworms thanks to a marathon 80s #1 hit countdown with WXPN, our favorite public radio station. Sour cherries have a season that’s as fleeting as an 80s one-hit wonder, available for only 2-3 weeks in early summer.

I wasn’t ready for canning yet this summer, but then I went to our local farmer’s market and saw sour cherries.When I saw those beauties piled up on the table, all I could think about was homemade vanilla ice cream, a glass of bourbon in winter, and maple buttermilk griddle cakes, all made even better with the addition of preserved sour cherries. I had to have them.

Sour cherries are too sour for many people to enjoy for fresh eating, but they are perfect for pies and preserves. Pitting them in preparation for preserving is an exercise in patience – one that I take sitting down at our dining room table. For pitting, I simply “unfold” a paperclip and use the smaller loop to fish out the pits one by one while keeping the delicate fruit intact. Stick the loop into the cherry where the stem used to be, give a gentle twist and pull the pit right out. Water bath canning is required for this recipe and the bourbon also acts as a preservative making these preserved sour cherries shelf-stable. This recipe is adapted and scaled up from one I found at Brooklyn Locavore. I think that if you decorated your jar lids with pretty fabric, preserved sour cherries would make a nice hostess gift any time of year.

preserved sour cherriesIngredients (Makes about 8 half-pint jars)

3 quarts of stemmed and pitted sour cherries (about 4 pounds)

4 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 vanilla bean

2 1/4 cups water

3/4 cup bourbon

Step one:

3 quarts of stemmed and pitted sour cherries (about 4 pounds)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

preserved sour cherries

Have a seat…this will take a while!

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the largest bowl you have. Add the vanilla bean pod, 1 1/2 cups sugar and the cherries. Gently mix and let sit for about 4 hours. Stir every so often to help the cherries release their juices and the sugar to dissolve.

Step two:

3 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups water

3/4 cup bourbon

preserved sour cherriesPrepare for water bath canning. Dump the cherries into a large pot, discard the vanilla bean pod, and add 3 cups sugar, the water and the bourbon. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Carefully transfer the cherries to your jars – they should be packed in tightly but not crammed. Ladle in enough of the syrup to cover the cherries. Leave 1/2-inch of headspace and affix your lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes.

Remove jars to a clean towel on your kitchen counter and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals on the lids, label, and store. If a jar does not seal, you can eat those preserved sour cherries right away! They’ll also keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

 

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Category: Favorites, Food, General, Recipes, Summer

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