Cherry season is short and we are in the midst of it! Although fresh cherries are amazing and good on and with so many things, pickling them is a great way to not only preserve them beyond the season, but augment their flavor into something out of this world. You may be amazed how much of their crispiness remains even after pickling too; you can be snacking on these long after the season has passed.
This is my pickled cherry recipe – sweet, sour, a bit salty, and spicy hot if you add some chilies.
These cherries are not only delicious, but they are super versatile. Sure, you could eat them like the pickles they are, popping them in your mouth one at a time for a little flavor explosion. But these could also be used in anything and everything from appetizers and charcuterie boards, to cocktails, salads (a favorite being in an arugula, goat cheese, and candied pecan salad), meats (especially pork, chicken, and braised lamb), desserts, and more.
One more recipe idea: Use that absolutely delicious and deeply colored brine when the cherries are finished. Make popsicles. Or purple pickled eggs. Or make a natural version of “Kool-Aid pickles” by bringing this leftover/used brine to a boil and pouring it over pickling cucumber spears in a quart jar. They’re quite delicious; see the pic for an example.
This recipe is for a quart jar of pickles but feel free to double all qualities for a half gallon, and so on.
You will need:
- Quart mason jar
- Small saucepan & wooden spoon
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Mortar & pestle
- Optional: canning funnel
- 14 oz. whole fresh cherries (do not pit), 400g
- 1.5 TBSP salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2/3 cup sugar (150g)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 nub ginger, sliced (~15g)
- 4-5 cloves
- 4-5 allspice berries
- 1/4 tsp mace
- Optional: 1-3 Thai chilies, halved, or other hot peppers, to taste
- Optional: ~10 juniper berries
- Optional: 1/4 tsp calcium chloride (to help maintain firmness of cherries)
1.) Place the cinnamon stick and mace powder in the bottom of the quart jar.
2.) Using the (optional) canning funnel, transfer the cherries (and optional hot peppers) to the jar.
3.) Toast the cloves and allspice berries in saucepan on medium-low heat for a minute or so. Then coarsely crush them and the (optional) juniper berries with mortar and pestle. Return them to the saucepan.
4.) To the saucepan, add the water, vinegar, ginger, salt and sugar. Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, covered.
5.) Pour the hot brine over the cherries in the jar. Seal tightly and allow to cool for an hour. Then transfer to fridge and wait a week for flavor to penetrate.
Cherry pickles will stay good for many months but after a few months will start softening, notwithstanding the note above about calcium chloride to extend this.