What could be more of a super summer treat than a great big bowl of cherries?
With a fairly short season, cherries are definitely worth splashing out on once
in a while, if you’re not lucky enough to have your own cherry tree in the
garden. If you do have a cherry tree, or if you find yourself buying a large
box of cherries from the greengrocer because they were on special offer,
today’s blog post is just for you. We’re going to look at some great recipe
ideas for using up all those delicious cherries, so that you can enjoy their
unique taste all year round.
The simplest idea for making the most of cherries is to preserve them in syrup. That way, you can add them to cocktails, use them in baking recipes, or add them to fruit salads or breakfast granola mixes all year round. Grab a Kilner jar or two, because here’s our favourite recipe for preserved cherries.
1 vanilla pod
zest of 1 lemon
- Wash the cherries and remove the stems and stones.
- Add the cherries, sugar, split vanilla pod and lemon zest to a maslin pan, along with 100ml of water. Simmer over a moderate heat for about 20 minutes or so, until the cherries are soft and have turned a dark red colour. The syrup should also have thickened by this point.
- Allow to cool a little, and then transfer the cherries to glass jars, pouring over enough syrup to cover them entirely. Seal the glass jars and label. Keep in a cool place and once opened, always store in the fridge and eat within a month. A Kilner jar filled with preserved cherries makes a superb gift.
Another great way to use up your cherries is, of course, to make jam with them. In the depths of winter, nothing evokes the summer months more than a perfect jar of cherry jam. Here’s the recipe…
Juice of 1 lemon
- Wash the cherries and then remove the stems and the stones, chopping the cherries in half to do so.
- Add all the ingredients to a large maslin pan and heat on a low setting, stirring continuously, until there is enough liquid in the pan to stop the sugar turning to caramel. Turn the heat down as far as possible and simmer for about 25 minutes.
- Test the jam for setting point (105°C), using a jam thermometer or the chilled plate method. If it is not yet set, continue to simmer for a little longer, then repeat the test.
- Once it has reached setting point, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly for 15 minutes or so. This also allows the cherries to settle, so that they don’t all end up in one jar!
- Spoon the jam into clean, sterilised glass jars and then seal with the lids and label the jars. Always add the date to your labels, so you know how long you’ve had it. It should keep in a dark place for up to a year, but once you’ve opened it, store it in the fridge and use it within a month.
When we think of preserving cherries, we usually think of a sweet recipe like the one we’ve offered above, but in fact, cherries can work brilliantly when they’re pickled instead. They make a fabulous accompaniment to cheese and they’ll make a real talking point as an unusual addition to a ploughman’s salad.
250ml cider vinegar
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsps peppercorns
½ tsp chilli pepper flakes
- Wash the cherries, and remove any stems, along with the stones. Set aside.
- Add all of the other ingredients to a maslin pan, and heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Divide the cherries equally between your clean, sterilised glass jars and cover with the vinegar mixture. Seal the jars and label them.
- Leave for at least a week before eating to allow the cherries to soak up that lovely vinegary liquid. These cherries will last for around two months.
We’re big fans of flavoured oils and vinegars and they make fantastic Christmas gifts that are quick and easy to produce. All you need is a couple of handfuls of cherries and an inexpensive bottle of balsamic vinegar. Wash the cherries and then smash then up, and place them in a bowl, along with the stones. Pour the balsamic vinegar over the cherries, ensuring that everything is covered, and then cover the bowl with a plate and leave to one side, for at least a week. Taste the vinegar after a week, and decide whether the cherry flavour has infused enough for your taste. If not, leave the mixture to stand a little longer, testing every day. Strain the mixture and pour into clean glass bottles.