Cherries are pricey, but never more affordable than mid-to-late summer, so now's the time to try this DIY. I'm going to recommend you buy a cherry pitter- yes, it's a dreaded one-trick-pony, taking up precious drawer space and rarely seeing the light of day, but there is no fool-proof alternative. I cut all my cherries in half and then pitted, and my brother recommended this hack, but I found that the pit sometimes took a bunch of meat with it, like half the bottom of each fruit. Nuh uh. Get a cherry pitter (which I still don't own...next year I suppose).
My recipe is below- it's an amalgamation of a few different recipes I found, and reflects both what I had on hand and what I wanted as the flavor profile. I made a very small batch, just 1 cup of cherries, because I want to try a few variations, mainly switching up the liquor (whiskey, dark rum, etc). The big difference between these and the Luxardo maraschinos? Well, mine were WAY less syrupy- the liquid mine were in had no notable viscosity, and was therefore a lot less sweet. In addition, my cherries weren't really masticated- they weren't as firm as fresh fruit, but sitting in the hot liquid for 20 minutes didn't do too much to cook them down. I think I'd like them a little more cooked next time, so perhaps I'll allow them to boil with the cherry juice, spices, and sugar before I let them cool and add the booze.
I'll be sharing a recipe I concocted for their inaugural tasting yesterday that is quite delicious soon.
· 1/4 cup light brown sugar
· 1/4 cup cherry juice (puured and strained cherries)
· 1 stick cinnamon
· Pinch of salt, cardamom, nutmeg
· One thin 1in sq shaving fresh ginger
· ½ c brandy (try maraschino liquor, bourbon, or rum)
· 1 cup cherries
Over low heat, combine all ingredients except cherries and booze
When all sugar is dissolved, remove from heat, add cherries, and allow to sit 20 min (I let it cool because I don’t want to cook off ANY of the alcohol. I’d be less worried were I using Everclear or high-proof bourbon, but with 80 proof apple brandy, I need all the preservative qualities of the alcohol)
Add booze, stir to combine, and pour into canning jar. Set in cool dark place and agitate every few days for a month. Strain out spices, cinnamon stick, and ginger, and repack cherries with the juice. Refrigerate, devour.