Brandied cherries are an easy way to preserve the sweet and tangy taste of summer cherries and they allow you to enjoy the flavor later in the year. The cherries are quite versatile. Use them in cocktails, on top of a parfait, or serve them with ice cream. The flavored brandy can be sipped on its own or use it to make an amazing Manhattan cocktail.
These cherries can be hot water-processed so you can store them in the cupboard, or simply popped into the fridge and allowed to mellow there. If you want to can them, put a canning kettle on to boil before you start pitting the cherries.
Gather the ingredients.
Pit the cherries. Set the pitted cherries aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and add the lemon juice, cardamom pods, whole cloves, whole allspice, and cinnamon stick. Gently simmer until the mixture is slightly reduced and thickened (and your kitchen smells amazing!), about 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Stir the brandy into the spiced sugar syrup. Add the pitted cherries and their juices.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a 1-quart jar (if you have a jar or canning funnel, this is a great time to use it). Pour enough of the liquid over the cherries to cover them completely while still leaving about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar. Twist on the lid.
You can take the easy route and simply put the jar in the fridge, letting it hang out in the back for at least 6 weeks. This will allow the cherries and spiced brandy have some time to really meld the flavors together. Or, process in boiling water for 10 minutes, let cool and store in a cool, dark place (such as a cupboard) for at least 6 weeks before using.
- When pitting cherries, you'll want to wear an apron or an old shirt since they'll likely be some splashed cherry juice. If you have a cherry pitter, great, use it. If you don't have one, there's no need to panic or rush out a buy one. A quick search in your house will yield a solution. A thin skewer, orange stick (as for manicures), unbent paper clip, or similar item works simply and easily to pop the pit out of cherries. Whatever you use to pit them, do so over a bowl to catch any juices. You can just add the pitted cherries to the juices as you go.
- Once opened, keep the jar chilled in the refrigerator.