We are getting towards the end of cherry season and I hadn't put any up yet so I got a few bags on sale at the store the other day and resolved to make something delicious from them.
I looked through my canning books and found a recipe in one of my favorites - Canning for a New Generation (Krissoff 2010) - that I had to try: Brandied Cherries in Red Wine.
To begin, I had to pit three pounds of cherries. I started the tedious task with my little cherry pitter when my middle stepson, Oliver, came in and asked what I was working on. I showed him the tool and he had to try it. He got his apron on and, after a short tutorial, was determined to do the whole huge bowl himself. I took the cherries after he pitted them to split them in half, checking to be sure the pits were out. By the time we finished, we both looked like we had killed some small creature...
The syrup is simple to make. Add two cups of brandy, one cup of wine, one cup of sugar and the zest of an orange peeled off with a vegetable peeler in long strips to a pot and bring it to a boil. Boil for five minutes then add the cherries.
Lower the temperature to a slow simmer and cook for a couple minutes (recipe says five-ish minutes; I did more like three), "until the cherries are tender but still hold their shape."
Then ladle the cherries and syrup into jars. I used 12 ounce jelly jars, and the recipe yielded about 5-1/3 jars. Wipe the rims, cover and process in a water bath canner for five minutes.
Rita and I did a taste test on Sunday and found the syrup made for a delightful cordial, topped with a few cherries. I'm also looking forward to trying them over vanilla ice cream!