Truth be told, my whole life could be a Portlandia episode, but I’m especially ok with this one. I am currently experiencing pickle-mania and am trading in my jam recipes for pickle recipes. Since I’ve gotten so into pickling via fermentation (my recent batch of fermented giardiniera finds its way onto my plate at every meal), pickling is even easier.
I finally broke down and bought the pickling bible everyone has told me about, The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, and it is amazing! I was dog-earing pages of recipes I wanted to try on my way out of the bookstore door. And there are so many fermentation pickles to try! The one that has really got me smitten though is the pickled cherries. I’ve had the book for a week and I’ve already made it twice. What makes it even better is that you don’t have to fire up the canner for this one. Inexperienced canners can pickle their hearts out – no canning supplies required!
I first had pickled cherries at last summer’s Outstanding in the Field and of all the amazing food we had that evening, the cherries are what I remember most. I don’t know if it was taste that got me or the fact that it had never occurred to me before to pickle something like a cherry. Whatever it was, I was hooked and when I cracked open my new pickling book, it was the first thing I looked for and the first recipe I tried. I think you should try it too. Once you catch a glimpse and a whiff of the beautiful, fragrant brine, you’ll be so glad you did. The fact that the recipe is so dang simple is just the icing on the cake.
Makes 1 pint
2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed (Bing cherries make the most lovely colored brine)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cardamom pod, cracked open
1 cinnamon stick
Place the cherries in a bowl and cover with the vinegar. Cover the bowl with a towel or some cheesecloth and let the cherries soak overnight.
Strain the vinegar into a nonreactive sauce pan and set the cherries aside. The cherries are not cooked or heated throughout the entire process to preserve their texture. Add the sugar, water and spices into the vinegar in the saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Once the brine liquid is cool, pour over the cherries and let them stand at room temperature for 3 days. Again, cover the bowl with a towel or cheesecloth.
Once again, strain the pickling liquid into a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Add the cherries to a warm, sterilized mason jar. Once the brine is cool, pour it over the cherries, completely covering them. Close the jar tightly with a nonreactive cap –either the plastic reusable mason jar lids or the two-piece metal lid with a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper in between the jar and the metal lid. That will keep it from rusting should the vinegary brine come in contact with the metal lid.
Store in the fridge or another cool, dark place for at least 1 month before eating. In her pickling cookbook, Ziedrich says the pickled cherries “will keep well even unrefrigerated for about 1 year.”
Bonus: Cherry Pit Liqueur
While pitting cherries, put the pits in a sterile mason jar. Cover with vodka or brandy and let it infuse for a couple of weeks. Make sure all the pits are completely covered with alcohol! The bits of cherry and pits lend an almond flavor to the alcohol – it’s easy to make and delicious. Once infused, strain the alcohol into a sterile mason jar to store and add the infused goodness to your homemade cocktails.