I have been walking past the fresh cherries in the store for a while now and never picked any up. Until today. I had a cherry tree at the house I grew up at, and remember fighting the birds for the cherries. The birds were willing to eat the cherries before they were ripe though, so we never got too many. But I showed those birds. I have six pounds of cherries in my kitchen, so suck it grackles, I win! Of course, now I need to figure out what to do with 6 pounds of cherries. As I do likes me a good cocktail, it occurred to me that the first thing I should be making is brandied cherries.
There are a number of more traditional preserving methods for making brandied cherries than the one I chose. Most of these involve cooking the cherries and boil-sealing the mason jars. While this means that if done properly they will last practically forever, I don’t have the tongs for fishing mason jars out of boiling water, so I went with a simpler, cold storage method: pack fresh cherries into a mason jar (I went with the half pint size in case I want to, I dunno, share), fill to the top with a mixture of brandy and sugar (2 parts brandy to 1 part sugar), seal lid and store in the back of your fridge for a minimum of six weeks to a maximum of a year before breaking them out.
A few of preserving tips that I pulled from my hours (sic) of research on the topic:
- Sterilize your jars first. I washed mine, then put them wet into the microwave for 1 minute
- Don’t pit the cherries which will maintain their shape.
- Remove the stems, apparently they add bitterness
- Use cheap brandy – you’re adding a lot of sugar anyway
- Make sure to date your bottles – you think you won’t forget when you put them in there, but trust me, you don’t want to be guessing about that strange bottle of … something .. you find in your fridge three years from now
Nothing says fun like spending an afternoon buying and preserving something that you can’t actually sample for a minimum of a month or two. But everything I have read says that these lovely little delicacies will be well worth the wait. Come this winter I’m going to put on my hipster bartender outfit (white shirt with the sleeves rolled up above the elbows, suspenders, maybe a pair of heavy rimmed glasses, fedora), crack out a numbered bottle of Michter’s Rye and whip up some elegant Old Fashioned’s and Manhattan’s using my brandied cherries for a garnish. I’ll serve them at a sophisticated cocktail party where I will entertain my elite guests with amusing tales of my foodie life while nibbling on some lovely cheeses, charcuterie, and assorted snacks.
Or more likely I’ll just drink the brandy right out of the mason jar and eat the cherries sitting on the floor while watching Monday Night Football. Either way, I think they are going to be awesome.