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.
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
- Wash, remove stems and pit cherries, set aside.
- In a heavy bottom sauce pan begin pickling syrup, add all remaining ingredients.
- Stir to dissolve sugar and combine ingredients.
- Heat to a low simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- 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.
- Fill sterilized pint jars with pitted cherries
- Leave one inch head space, but pack tightly. (The more cherries in the jar, the less syrup you have to use.)
- Strain syrup to remove seeds, sprigs, leaves and flakes.
- Bring temperature of syrup up to hot.
- Pour into jars.
- Leave 1/2 inch head space (air space between liquid and top of jar).
- Add warm lid, tighten.
- Gently place in a hot water bath and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove and let cool.
These cherry pickle poppers will mellow a bit if you wait a couple weeks before eating.
Oh 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).