Some friends and I tried to go blueberry picking on Friday, just before the heat wave hit. The farm’s newsletter said that blueberries would be ready last Wednesday, so we figured that there would be plenty of ripe, plump berries for us to brush into our buckets. I should have thought to call ahead, but instead we drove for 35 minutes only to find that….the blueberries weren’t ready yet. Cue the sad trombones.
But we had driven all that way, with our containers packed into the back seat. We were slathered in sunscreen and had quickly-melting ice water at the ready to rehydrate. So we asked if they had any fruit that was ready for U-Pick.
“Some sour cherries and red raspberries,” they told us. Sour cherries it was.
Side note: I don’t know why, but I have it in my head that only black raspberries are June/July fruits, and that the reds and goldens are only in late summer/early fall. So I almost never pick raspberries this early in the season, other than the black ones in our backyard. I have no idea why.
Because I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with the cherries, I left two of my three containers behind, bringing only the largest with me to collect the fruit. Still, I ended up with 5.5 pounds of juicy sour cherries, destined to become amaretto cherry preserves and a crumble…or so I thought at the time.
Another note: Oxo sent me a cherry pitter to try, and it is a lifesaver. It is so much quicker and cleaner than my “pit the cherries with a straw” method!
While I was soaking the cherries in amaretto and sugar for the preserves, I checked my canning inventory and saw that I still had a few jars of the preserves left from last year. And while I love those preserves, I decided to do something a little different, and turn them into cocktail cherries instead.
As it turns out, when you make my amaretto cherry preserves into cocktail cherries, they come out tasting just like maraschino cherries. Except they are a little more tart and a lot more real (no corn syrup or food coloring here!). Win!
Use these cherries in your favorite cocktails or on top of an ice cream sundae. The processed jars would also make a great holiday gift! And if you're anything like me, you'll be tempted to skip the cocktails and be just as happy swiping the cherries out of the jar one-by-one to pop into your mouth.
- 3 pounds pitted tart or sour cherries
- 6 tablespoons amaretto
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
- Gently combine the cherries, amaretto and sugar in a large bowl, mixing well so that all the fruit is covered by the sugar and amaretto. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, prepare for canning. Wash the jars and flat lids with hot, soapy water. Put the jars in the canning pot and fill the pot with hot water. Heat over medium-high heat to keep the jars hot.
- Pour the cherries into a colander set over a large stockpot. Add the lime juice to the stockpot, and bring the juice to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the cherries to the stockpot. Simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
- Line the hot jars up on a folded towel, pouring the water back into the canning pot first.
- Fill the jars up to 1/2” below the rim. Use a clean towel to wipe any preserves off the rims, then top each jar with a lid and a tightened ring. Place the jars back in the canning pot and make sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Place the jars on a folded towel and allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check the seals of the lids after 1 hour. If a seal has not formed, refrigerate the jar immediately.
Psst: OXO sent me the cherry pitter and a few other summer fruit-related tools to review, but I was not compensated in any other way. I just truly love the cherry pitter!