I heart cherries. I think you all know that by now… I gushed about the cherries in Vancouver and then I gushed about the cherries from the Whalesbone… heck – I see a cherry and I want to pop it in my mouth. They are delicious! However… too much of a good thing is still too much… and cherries can be too good of a thing (after so many cherries your belly starts to revolt non?)!
I have therefore decided that it’s time to make my own batch of preserved cherries! (and yes… this is exciting enough to be worthy of the exclamation mark!) I’ve been tossing around this idea ever since I made that first batch of maraschino cherries at the Whalesbone… and since I ended up with 6 pints of cherries in my fridge… it was time to stop thinking and start making!
I will not lie – I’m really excited about this project. I already know how I’m going to use a jar or two… they will fill a gâteau basques (remember my love of them while I was in France?). But before I can fill any pastry I need me some macerated cherries.
The perfect Sunday afternoon project.
After some thoughtful consideration: “to pit or not to pit the cherries?“, I was ready to go.
1. I didn’t pit them. I did clean and de-stem them though (Kshonze supported me in this decision… I asked)
2. I didn’t sterilize the mason jars in a big pot of boiling water… I placed them (tops removed) on a large cookie sheet and placed them in the oven, preheated to 225 F for 20 minutes. No boiling water. No need for tongs. No concerns regarding dropping a jar in the water and smashing it. I like this trick (thank you Micheline).
3. and then I started on my simple syrup.
2 c. water
2 c. sugar
1 vanilla pod, sliced down the middle and de-seeded
zest of 1 lemon, grated
peel of 1 lemon, peeled off
juice of both those lemons
limoncello, to flavour
6 pints of cherries, cleaned and stemmed. You can pit them if you like… but incorporate that into your prep time.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the sugar, water, lemon zest, vanilla pod and seeds to a boil. Swirl everything around so that the sugar dissolves, decreasing the heat to medium. Allow to simmer so that the syrup reduces and thickens (turns into the consistency of warm honey), then remove the saucepan from heat.
Add the cherries, tossing in the lemon peel, lemon juice and limoncello.
Grab a large wooden spoon and mix everything really well – you want the syrup to completely cover the cherries (almost like placing the cherries in a bath of syrup).
Allow to cool to room temperature, then spoon both the cherries and syrup into your sterilized mason jars. Cool little trick – sterilize the jar covers by placing them in a small saucepan covered in water. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 2 minutes – long enough to sterilize, but not so long that you melt the rubber on the jar cover (again, thanks Micheline!).
All I can say is… that syrup is the bomb! A-MAZ-ING. Adding limoncello to more sugar… and then adding cherries… win-win to me!