DIY Cocktail Cherries

I have previously mentioned my extreme dislike for maraschino cherries on the blog. What kind of cherries are that awful florescent color? That’s not natural…I cringe just thinking about it.

One day I had a revelation: Why don’t I just make my own?

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So here we are – I did just that!

But these aren’t your ordinary cocktail cherries…they are spiced and boozy. The perfect combination!

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Since cherry season is somewhat short lived, I suggest you get workin on these ASAP. Then when December rolls around you will have a few jars heavenly preserved cherries to serve at your Holiday cocktail party. Trust me, these will not go unnoticed – people will be in awe that you made your own (then will probably try to swipe a jar when you’re not looking).

The combination of spices are what really make these cherries a game changer. They can stand alone or can make the perfect compliment to a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned (perhaps I’ve been watching a little too much Mad Men lately..)

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Or we can be realistic and assume most will be eaten straight from the jar Winking smile

And before we get ahead of ourselves, lets briefly discuss the syrup that they’ve been soaking in. A couple of spoonful’s of the cherry syrup in some lemon-lime soda and you have an effortless (and slightly boozy) Shirley Temple. My other grand plans include adding it into the blender with some ice cream for a very adult cherry milkshake – or perhaps just pouring a little of it over a scoop or two of ice cream. Endless possibilities my friends.

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My recipe is relatively small and calls for only one pound of cherries – let’s be honest, you will probably want to double it. I made a quadruple batch so that I had enough for myself to enjoy and to have plenty to give away to friends.

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I also highly recommend getting a cherry pitter. I have this one from OXO and it’s my new best friend. These are seriously the greatest invention ever. I speak from experience when I say that its next to impossible to pit cherries without one (the paperclip thing never works for me) and it make a gargantuan mess. Once I made an entire cherry pie with fresh cherries by cutting each cherry in half, then careful removing the pit – talk about an enormous waste of time. It probably would have been faster for me to stop by target and pick one of these up Winking smilecherry14

Since this recipe has a high alcohol and sugar content, you don’t have to can them – they will be shelf stable on their own. I wanted to be absolutely sure they would be safe for longer storage, so I went ahead and processed them. The decision is up to you!

Store the jars in a cool dark place  – and I would recommend storing them for at least 2 months before eating to let the flavors develop. Once opened, they should keep in the fridge for a couple of months, as long as the cherries are submerged in the syrup.

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For those of you who want to make these cherries alcohol free (and kid friendly), I have included an additional recipe at the bottom. If you choose to go this route, use an all natural unsweetened cherry juice (such as this one from R.W. Knudsen ) or make your own cherry juice. Please note that the cherries without liquor must be processed in a water bath canner to prevent bacteria growth.

These recipes were developed as an entry into the OXO Cherry Recipe Contest

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DIY Cocktail Cherries
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 1 pound
Ingredients
  • 1 lb fresh cherries (Bing or Rainier), stems and pits removed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • Pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp whole allspice berries
  • whole star anise, broken in half
  • ¾ cup brandy
  • ⅓ cup cherry liqueur (I use Luxardo)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot combine water and sugar. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the pot and add the pod. Stir in the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, allspice and star anise. Bring to a simmer. Once sugar has fully dissolved, remove from heat and cover for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pack cherries into clean and sanitized jars, leaving ½ inch space from top of the jar.
  2. After 15 minutes, remove the vanilla bean pod, cinnamon stick, allspice and piece of star anise. Stir in brandy and cherry liqueur. Ladle the syrup mixture over the jars of packed cherries, ensuring that the liquid covers the cherries completely. Cover tightly with lids.
  3. Optional: Process jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  4. Store in a cool, dry place. Store cherries for 2-3 months before serving to allow flavors to develop. Refrigerate jars after opening.

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Spiced Cherries
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 1 pound
Ingredients
  • 1 lb fresh cherries (Bing or Rainier), stems and pits removed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup pure unsweetened cherry juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • Pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp whole allspice berries
  • whole star anise, broken in half
Instructions
  1. In a large pot combine sugar, water and cherry juice. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the pot and add the pod. Stir in the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, allspice and piece of star anise. Bring to a simmer. Once sugar has fully dissolved, remove from heat and cover for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pack cherries into clean and sanitized jars, leaving ½ inch space from top of the jar.
  2. After 15 minutes, remove the vanilla bean pod, cinnamon stick, allspice and star anise. Ladle the syrup mixture over the jars of packed cherries, ensuring that the liquid covers the cherries completely. Cover tightly with lids.
  3. Process jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  4. Store in a cool, dry place. Cherries are best after 1 month of storage to allow for flavors to develop. Refrigerate jars after opening.

Disclosure: Some of the links included in this post may be affiliate links and I will earn a very small commission if you purchase through those links. I really appreciate your support to help keep free recipes on this site! Please see my policies page if you would like more information

Comments

  1. says

    Boozy cherries on top of a boozy mix…I think I like that. These cherries are so pretty a sight. Your pictures are so crisp!
    Anyhoo, we have been keeping an eye out for unique and interesting bloggers with phenomenal photography skills, and yours have caught our attention! We have just recently launched a food photo gallery http://www.yumgoggle.com/gallery/ that allows you to showcase all your great work and share it with all of our visitors. We’d be proud to have your work as part of our growing collection to continue to have a larger reach and further inspire all fellow food lovers out there!
    yumgoggle recently posted..easy desserts & recipes: panna cotta & a kitchenaid mixer giveawayMy Profile

  2. Sue says

    These Cocktail Cherries are the Bomb!!!!! We have just about gone through one batch in two weeks! I never was an Old Fashion drinker but now I LOVE them! Making a triple batch today!!!

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