Use these preserved cherries to garnish a wide range of cocktails, such as the Negroni. Recipe from The Preservatory by Lee Murphy (Appetite by Random House). Note that you will have to start this a day ahead.
Makes 8 to 10 8-oz (250 mL) jars.
• 6 lbs (2.75 kg) whole Rainier or other sweet cherries
• ½ cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice
• 1 vanilla bean
• 8 cups (2 L) granulated sugar
• 1/3 cup + 1 ½ tbsp (100 mL) kirsch
Stem and pit the cherries – you should have 5 lbs (2.25 kg) of prepared fruit.
Pour the lemon juice into a large, non-reactive bowl. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the dull side of a paring knife. Stir vanilla seeds into lemon juice and whisk to separate seeds.
Add pitted cherries and sugar to vanilla-lemon juice and stir well. Cover and place in the fridge to macerate overnight.
The next day, fill your preserving pot with water and bring to a boil. Place 10 8-oz (250-mL) jars and their snap lids in the pot and sterilize for at least 15 minutes. Keep hot until you’re ready to fill the jars.
Strain cherries from their accumulated juices, reserving the cherries and pouring the juices into a separate stainless steel jam pot. Boil the juice until it reaches the setting point at 220°F (110°C).
Add the cherries and bring the mixture back to a boil, frequently skimming any foam that rises. Cook to set, again to 220°F (110°C).
Remove jars and snap lids from the preserving pot, but keep the water simmering.
Remove preserves from heat and carefully stir in kirsch. Let sit 5 minutes, then, using a slotted spoon, divide the cherries equally between the jars. (Note that you might only have enough for 8 jars – don’t overfill them.)
Pour the remaining cherry syrup over the cherries until the jars are filled ¼ inch (0.5 cm) from the top. Wipe the rims, place the snap lids on, and loosely screw on the ring bands.
Return jars to the pot of boiling water and process for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature. If you hear a “pop” and the dimple on top of the snap lid has turned concave, your preserves are good and you can keep them in a cool, dark place for up to six months. If not, place them in the refrigerator and consume within two weeks.
—by Lee Murphy