Occasionally I would be allowed to have three cherries without the liquid. Let’s say there was no deprivation, but certainly did not get as many as I cherished.
Growing up in Italy was fun. Every other Sunday, my parents would take us (brother and sister), to see the grandparents on their farm, about 27 KM. I could have been no older than 11 years old. Adults gathered around the table positioned just outside the main entrance, and us kids scattered around the perimeter. My grandmother would bring a jar of these luscious cherries, along with house-made Italian cured ham, sliced by hand, while rustic cornbread adorned the table. Kids in Italy often sample little alcohol or wine, but always diluted with water. Occasionally I would be allowed to have three cherries without the liquid. Let’s say there was no deprivation, but certainly did not get as many as I cherished. That childhood ritual brought me to make these cherries every chance I got once in the kitchen. Since I recently filled two gallons for the family, let me share the steps with you. Enjoy them in moderation, and let someone else drive.
The cherry season runs from May to August, which include the famous Rainier and Bing varietals. Tart and sour cherries have a much shorter growing period, usually about two weeks during June. Look for cherries loaded with sugar, shiny, plump, with fresh-looking green stems. Keep in mind that sweetness varies from region to region. Always ask for the provenience of the fruit you are buying.
Cherries in alcohol a recipe my grandmother used to preserve ripe fruit for a long time. If you prepare it in August, you’ll be able to taste it in October. It takes two to three months for the cherries to soak in alcohol and release all their flavor. Cherries in alcohol are excellent in cocktails during aperitifs with friends, perfect for garnishing cakes, for decorating ice creams, or stand-alone when you are watching TV.
1 kg of cherries ( two pounds)
200 g of sugar ( one cup granulated sugar)
600 ml of alcohol for sweets at 90 ° (three cups of alcohol)
300 ml of water (1-1/4 cups bottled water)
One cinnamon stick
Wash and dry the cherries carefully using a clean, dry cloth. Drain them on a kitchen towel overnight. Place the cherries in a sterilized jar as well as caps. In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Continue boiling until sugar dissolves totally. Chill for 2 hours, stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour alcohol into the water-sugar mix. Place cherries into the jar and cover with the prepared liquid, with the addition of a piece of cinnamon stick and cloves. Close with the lid and leave to macerate for about three months.
Instead of using alcohol, you can use a bottle of brandy, whiskey, grappa, or vodka. If you have an unused jar in the pantry, this is the right time. If you do not want the mixture of water and sugar, you can use 900 ml of straight alcohol and pour it directly on the cherries. The recipe suggests keeping the cherries in the liquid for at least three months, but you break the rule after two months. If you end up with more liquid than cherries, just add fresh new cherries to the alcohol, and allow to macerate for 2 months.
Thanks for reading. Eat safe and wear a mask! Ciao Chef W
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