Home Recipes Pickled Sweet Cherries…Who Would Have Thunk?

Pickled Sweet Cherries…Who Would Have Thunk?

Pickled Sweet Cherries…Who Would Have Thunk?

I shall take no credit for the inspiration of pickling sweet cherries. My friend Julie brought the possibility to my attention in a Facebook lament.  And as the woman who introduced me to shrimp and grits, and the artery-clogging wonder called “Hot Brown” I will always hitch a ride on her chuck wagon and embrace her daily larder, offerings or culinary considerations.  Her most recent kitchen antic took advantage of July’s most available and delicious fruit, the sweet cherry. Julie took it in a different direction and the clever girl dared to pickle it, a perfect choice for cured meats and cheeses this fall and winter.

Here’s the recipe, I came up with based on my own herb and spice preferences. Of course, you can mix it up, based on yours. The pickling syrup lends itself to some very creative combinations.

Spicy Pickled Sweet Cherries

Makes 6-8 pints  (approximately)


  • 3 pounds of firm sweet cherries
  • 4 cups white or cider vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons pepper flakes
  • 1-3 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 cardamon seeds
  • 3-4 cloves


  1. Wash, remove stems and pit cherries, set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan begin pickling syrup, add all remaining ingredients.
  3. Stir to dissolve sugar and combine ingredients.
  4. Heat to a low simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and let it sit for at least a half hour. Let the herbs and spices do their thing to flavor the syrup.
  6. Fill sterilized pint jars with pitted cherries
  7. Leave one inch head space, but pack tightly. (The more  cherries in the jar, the less syrup you have to use.)
  8. Strain syrup to remove seeds, sprigs, leaves and flakes.
  9. Bring temperature of syrup up to hot.
  10. Pour into jars.
  11. Leave 1/2 inch head space (air space between liquid and top of jar).
  12. Add warm lid, tighten.
  13. Gently place in a hot water bath and simmer for 10 minutes.
  14. Remove and let cool.

Tools of the pickling trade: stainless pan, canning funnel, and fine mesh strainer

These cherry pickle poppers will mellow a bit if you wait a couple weeks before eating.

pitting cherries stained hands and shirtOh yes, cherry pitting is messy business (or could it just be me? …nah) so don’t wear your Sunday best. I also suggest you pit the cherries outside, say on a picnic table. Oh and your hands will likely frighten neighbors for a few days (be sure to explain the stains).



  1. Cherry juice? Uhuh….Sure it is Tom….Just keep the man AWAY from the sharp implements Boz. You could be next.

    • You’ve got a point Jacqui, I do look a little crazed in that one photo, but I assure you no farmers, farmhands or cherry trees suffered injury.

  2. Tom,
    I’m a huge fan of cherries. I like sour jarred morelo cherries too which we warm up and eat with vanilla ice cream. I’ve never had preserved cherries made this way. What do we pair this pickle with?

    • Stevie, I like it with grilled salmon or duck or ham, though I know you guys are vegetarians. I love it with cheeses, Camembert, brie and chevre as well as aged cheddar with sour dough bread. It can be a stand alone condiment, like pickled crabapples.

  3. Tom, another great post! This is the best site on the web as far as I can tell. I am going to make you my first link on my site and put it on my Facebook page. I hope you get an award for all your hard work.

  4. Tom,
    Thanks for the info on how to pair this this preserve with. We do eat cheese and I bet it would be delicious with soft cheeses…. sweet, sour, with a little kick from the spices yumm

  5. Dear Tom,
    Here in Northern Michigan, the sweet and tart cherry crop was decimated by an early heat wave followed by a prolonged cold snap. Cherries are hard to find, but I bought three pounds of sweet ones and made the pickles.
    They look like jewels in the jars. I haven’t tasted them yet, but the recipe only made four pints, so I will need to be very careful about who I give them to!


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