Cherries… they seem to be something you either have a love affair with, or you can just leave them sitting in your ice cream puddle uneaten and unappreciated. Aside from pie… a lot of people just aren’t big fans. But, once you’ve tried brandied cherries? Things change.
Plain, Maraschino cherries that have been plinked atop ice cream sundaes for as long as I can remember just don’t do this delicious fruit justice. But cocktail cherries like Luxardo cherries are a delicious, adult treat plunked in your Manhattan or even atop your own sundae.
But… most of us don’t have the budget for aforementioned cherries on the regular. Thankfully, these delicious treats are super simple to make and a great way to preserve cherries from the harvest.
What are brandied cherries?
I love the old-fashioned way of doing things and preserving cherries, peaches and other fruit in alcohol used to be basic practice. It was simple, it was effective and it was incredibly popular before basic canning and refrigeration were popularized.
Incredibly simple, brandied cherries are exactly what they sound like… cherries preserved in a sweetened alcoholic syrup the alcohol, of course, being brandy in this case.
While you can keep it simple and just use brandy, sugar, and some water to soak your cherries, you can also add in spices like a vanilla bean in the jar (which is delicious) or cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom pods. I typically make several jars and do each one slightly different. Which, is the neat part about preserving in alcohol… you can change up the flavor.
How to make brandied cherries
This is by far the quickest, easiest preserving recipe I’ve ever made. Like I said, you really only need 4 ingredients. You need cherries, cognac, sugar, and water. The whole process only takes about twenty minutes.
To make these authentic, you would leave the stems on, but shortened and leave the pits. I choose to de-stem and pit all of my cherries before preserving them regardless of the method. It’s just a personal choice.
If you want to pit them and you don’t have a cherry pitter, you can simply remove the stem and take a small icing tip like these and push it in where the stem was removed until the pit slides out the other side. Some folks say a drinking straw works… but I have better luck with an icing tip.
After you’ve pitted, or not pitted, your cherries you’ll want to make a simple sugar syrup with sugar and water. While that is boiling, you can pack clean jars tightly with cherries. Add a cup of cognac to a quart jar. You can also divide these into smaller jars (and use the variations of vanilla or spiced if you choose). Simply add 1/2 cup of cognac to each pint jar over the cherries or 1/4 cup to half pints.
If you’re adding spices, you can simply place them in the jar with the cherries. Place the lid on and put the jar in the refrigerator to do its thing. The longer they sit… the better.
Tips for making brandied cherries
- Use ripe, quality fruit. You don’t want to use bruised, squishy or underripe cherries to make this. As with all preserving recipes, it’s best to use the ripest, best fruit you can acquire.
- Don’t use an expensive cognac. Save the expensive cognacs for more appropriate affairs. While you don’t want to skimp and buy the cheapest bottle of brandy you can find, you don’t need $100 bottle of cognac, either.
- Don’t skimp on the sugar. I know… some of my jam recipes are on the sweet side. But you don’t want to skimp on the sugar here, even using sweet cherries. It helps preserve them (along with the alcohol, of course).
Storing brandied cherries
The old fashioned way would be to simply put the lid on the jar and place it in the cellar until later. The sugar and alcohol should be enough to preserve the fruit.
But… modern times and all that. I typically leave mine in the refrigerator. Where, by the way, they will keep forever (at least a year).
Alternatively, if you want to mess with it, you can preserve these in a water bath canner. You’ll need to process them for 25 minutes. If you choose not to pit them, make sure you prick each cherry before packing in jars.
Sweet and boozy, these brandied cherries are a quick, easy, delicious way to preserve your cherry harvest to use atop cocktails or an adult ice cream sundae.
- 1 Pound Cherries
- 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Cup Brandy
Vanilla Brandied Cherries
- 1 Vanilla Bean
Spiced Brandied Cherries
- 2 Whole Cloves
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (halved)
- 4 Cardamom Pods
- Trim stems off cherries, or completely remove. Pit, if desired.
- Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring regularly, until sugar dissolves.
- Meanwhile, pack prepared cherries tightly into clean jars.
- Pour one cup of brandy over cherries. Top with syrup until covered.
- Place lid on jar and place in refrigerator to sit for at least two weeks.
Vanilla Brandied Cherries
Simply add a split vanilla bean to the quart jar with the cherries.
Spiced Brandied Cherries
Add 1 cinnamon stick, two whole cloves, and four cardamom pods to the quart jar before adding the liquid.
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