I’m not sure if I’ve been living in a cave, but I’d never heard of brandied cherries before. When I first ran across them over at Sidewalk Shoes though, I knew I had to try them right away. I mean how good does it sound–preserved fruit, but in liquor! Right up my alley.
Unfortunately, like when making preserved lemons, I can’t tell you how this tastes yet. It requires a bit of time to age and mingle. Of course, seeing how I sampled as I cooked, I can say I’m eagerly looking forward to when I get to open this jar up. This could go on top of ice creams, in mixed drinks, or just make for a great adult snack. Plus, its a fun way to let you enjoy cherries out of season.
- ~3 cups cherries, stemmed but not pitted
- cognac (or plain old brandy)…enough to top off the jar
- 5-6 Tbsp sugar
- no more than 1/4 cup water
- 1 star anise
- 4 cardamom
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 vanilla bean
As with all canning endeavors, the first thing you need to do is properly sterilize your jar. Wash the jar in warm soapy water and then cover the jar (but not the lid and cover which should go in warm, but not boiling water about 5 minutes before you think you’ll need them) in boiling water until you’re ready for it. Is it really necessary for this particular recipe that you go through all of the motions for good canning? Probably not (what with the alcohol), but why not play it safe (and get more practice), right?
So anyways, good practice aside, onto the cooking. Stem the cherries and give them a good rinsing, discarding any cherries that don’t look too great (under or over-ripe).
Now, in a saucepan, make a simple syrup, mixing everything except for the vanilla for about 5 minutes over medium heat or until the sugar dissolves into what little water is there. This should get nice and thick, at which point, you can take this off of the heat and toss the cherries in the syrup to coat.
At this point, remove your jar from the boiling water, pour the cherries and syrup in (being sure to stick your vanilla in there, as well!) and press down gently to compact but not squish the cherries. Fill the jar with cognac, leaving about 1/4-1/8 inch of head room.
Remove the jar lid pieces from the warm water, clean the lip of your jar if you got any syrup on it, and seal it shut. Some would argue you don’t need to process the jar further in the boiling water, but to me, this gives you both the vacuum seal on the jar and it softens the cherries up just a little bit. So with your jar twisted shut, put it back in the boiling water for 5 minutes and then remove it, pat dry, and set it aside…for about 6 months.