"Brandied Cherries" or "Pickled Cherries" don't, in fact, involve brandy or a vinegar brine as the names might suggest.
Brandying is an old-fashioned word describing a process that is a combination of a sugar preserve and a fermentation method. It works especially well with cherries or other fleshy fruit (divine with peaches or pears!).
You can make these in a plain glass jar, but if you have a fermentation crock, use it. Crocks are especially useful if you are fermenting a large quantity of fruit.
Note: It is important to use sour cherries for this rather than sweet cherries. If you use the latter, you are likely to end up with an alcoholic fermentation and a very different taste, which is still good but not pickled.
How to Make Naturally Fermented Pickled Cherries
- Wash, stem and pit the sour cherries. I highly recommend getting a cherry pitter to help with the process. They are inexpensive and you can use them for olives as well.
- Weigh the sour cherries.
- Add an equal amount, by weight, of sugar. Stir well. Let sit 2 hours. The sugar will begin to dissolve and combine with the cherry juices to form a syrup. Stir one more time.
- If you mixed your sour cherries and sugar in a crock, weight the cherries down with the weights that came with the crock, or with a plate that has a can or jar full of water placed on top of it.
- Leave to ferment for 2 to 4 weeks. During that time, remove the weight(s) once a day and stir the cherry mixture.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to clean glass jars. It is not necessary to sterilize the jars for this recipe.
- Ladle enough of the fermented sugar and cherry juice syrup over the cherries to cover the fruit. Tightly cover or cork. Store in the refrigerator, or in an unheated garage, or in a cool, dark cellar.
Spoon pickled cherries and some of their brine over a soft, mildly stinky cheese such as a camembert or brie. Also tasty over goat cheeses such as chèvre and goat milk feta.
Spear on toothpicks and use instead of maraschino cherries in cocktails such as Manhattans.