Cherry season is a short and sweet season. What do you do with these bright, delicious treasures? Most of us will put them in a pie, jam them or freeze them for a later day, but there are so many other ways! Pickle them, boozy ’em up, or make a sauce from them! Those are just a few ways I took the nine pounds of Michigan cherries and transformed them into delicious treats to enjoy later.
Let’s talk about the variety of cherries you can find. The classic red cherry we find in abundance at grocery stores is Bing cherry. They are perfect for pies, jams, desserts, and eating them raw.
My personal favorite is the Rainier cherry. This cherry is named after the mountain range in Washington, where this cherry is native. The skins of this candy-sweet, two-toned cherries are rosy on one side and golden on the other, with light flesh. The creamier the yellow color, the riper and tastier. They are juicy, making them delicious for eating raw, but they are not a great choice for baking; cooking ruins their lovely color.
Here are the three ways to enjoy cherries outside of classic methods;
Vanilla Bean Pickled Cherries
- 1 pound sweet cherries bing, ulster, rainier
- ¾ cup rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar as substitute)
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 vanilla bean split open and scraped or 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Pit your cherries. Set aside.
- Sterilize jar and lid with hot water. Set aside. Pack the jar with the cherries.
- Make the brine: In a small sauce pot, add vinegar, brown sugar, spices and vanilla bean. Over medium high heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes.Remove the vanilla bean and push in the jar of cherries.
- Over a glass measuring cup, strain the brine with a fine mesh sieve. Pour the brine over the jar of cherries and vanilla bean. Discard the solids in sieve. Add the lid on to jar, and allow the heat from the brine to soften the cherries over time. Allow to cool for a few hours, and then place in the fridge.
- Pickled cherries shelf life is one month in the refrigerator or can be canned via traditional canning methods for up to a year.
- 1 pound sweet or tart cherries
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 lemon, three strips of rind and juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup Luxardo cherry liquor
- Place the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, lemon juice, and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture and bring it to a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cherries and bring the mixture to a simmer again for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Luxardo liqueur.Allow the mixture to cool completely and remove the cinnamon stick before adding to a sealable jar, about an hour. Store in the fridge for several weeks.
Cherry Chipotle BBQ sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup sweet cherries, pitted
- 1 chipotle pepper
- 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 lime, zest, and juice
- salt and pepper
- Combine and cook ingredients. In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring often. Cool and blend. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool before transferring to a blender. Blend until the sauce is smooth.Taste and season.