Brandied Cherries

We had an opportunity to pick up some cherries from a you-pick farm and came home with 6.5 lbs.  It’s not a tremendous amount, but enough to do something interesting with.

Since we find we don’t usually get through canned cherries, and since we found our brandied peaches to be a fantastic success, we decided to make brandied cherries.

The recipe we developed is an amalgamation of several recipes we found online, including:

Here is what we came up with (per quart of stemmed, pitted cherries):

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 Reserved cherry pits

For each quart of cherries, combine 1 cup of sugar (reserving 1/4 cup for later), the water, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 3 minutes to infuse cinnamon. Remove cinnamon.

Add cherries, quickly bring back to a boil, and simmer 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Place 3 cherry pits in the bottom of each pint jar, or 6 in the bottom of each quart jar. Using a slotted spoon, strain cherries and load into jars, leaving a little more than 1 inch of headspace.

Return syrup to heat and add remaining sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand a moment to cool, then add vanilla and brandy. Mix in quickly, and pour the syrup over the cherries, using a knife to remove air bubbles and pack the cherries. Leave 1 inch to 3/4 inch headroom.

Seal the jars and process in a steam or water bath cannner for 15 minutes. Allow to age at least 4 months before opening.

The cherry pits are supposed to add a slightly almond-like flavor to the cherries. You can, alternatively, brandy whole cherries with the pits in, but then you have to worry about dealing with the pits when they are eaten. (WARNING: When using the cherries and their syrup, remember these pits are here (or leave them out when canning) or you may wind up with a sore tooth).

This is our first experience with the brandied cherries, but if they’re anything like the peaches, we imagine they will be excellent with ice cream, in beverages, or as a garnish to other deserts. UPDATE: They are amazing served over ice cream, mixed (sparingly) into drinks, or cooked with other fruit in desserts.

We had syrup left over, so we went ahead and canned that too, as we did with the excess syrup from our brandied peaches. The difference here is that this syrup already has the brandy in it. This syrup can be cooked down to use as a dessert sauce, or used as a sweetener/flavoring for drinks.

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