People have been ranting and raving ad nauseum about how great stone fruit season is shaping up this year, beginning with cherries. Far too many exclamation marks have been typed, causing an unfortunate cramp in the left hand in the most rabid of us, blogging their praises. I prefer to save my left hand for other, more important activities…
If your mind has made its way back from the gutter now, that’s wonderful. Thanks, but I was referring to activities like practicing good penmanship and chopping down cherry trees.
I’m afraid I was not among those singing gospel-strength love songs to the cherry this season. In fact, I think I’ve actually shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes with an “Oh really?” dropping from my lips in response to their purported greatness. It’s not because I’m a cherry hater. Quite the contrary.
I am merely a jealous lover. If everyone gorged themselves on cherries this season, would there be enough left over for me? An act of self preservation, plain and simple.
How fascinating that I should mention preservation and simple in the same sentence, since they are the essence of my post today.
In May and June, if one looked in my refrigerator, one would find among the cheeses, mustard, beer and long-forgotten yogurts, a bag of cherries. Sometimes two because I’d forget that I had purchased a bagful the previous day.
The cherries are for eating out of hand, mostly. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll pit and stew some with sugar, water and a little vanilla extract for pouring over my ice cream. Or make clafoutis, a dish my friend Karen refers to as a “no-brainer.” Indeed it is and, therefore, the perfect dessert for me.
By the end of June, I am sick of cherries. Or sick from them. I am, by then, ready for some summer loving. My attention wanders. A bit of peach fuzz catches my eye and my taste for cherries sours.
Until next year when the fever hits me again, sometime around April.
This year, I celebrated Easter with some old friends from cooking school. Doralice, our organizer and chiefest food pimp, brought with her a jar of her vodka cherries. I thought to myself, “That’s just about the smartest thing I’ve ever heard of: fruit and alcohol.” I made a mental note to do the same this year. I’m glad I didn’t forget.
If you are anything like me and have no patience whatsoever for jam-making, preserving fruit in alcohol is just the ticket– or tonic. I may be tired of them now, but come winter, I’ll be glad I have them to remind me of warmer days. In fact, they will inspire much warmer nights since I will use them to garnish Manhattans, my cold weather cocktail of choice.
Here’s the recipe. I hope it doesn’t prove too difficult.
Two important things you will need for this recipe:
- a 4 quart glass or ceramic container
- a lot of patience
1 cup simple syrup
6 cups dark sweet fresh cherries (most would suggest pitting, I disagree for aesthetic reasons)
2 cups vodka
2 cups brandy
Place cherries, simple syrup, brandy and vodka in container. Cap tightly or cover snugly with plastic wrap. Store in a cool dark place for three weeks. If you tell me there is no such place in your home you are kidding no one but yourself. Swirl the mixture around in the container every three days.
After three weeks, I imagine (I say imagine since I’ve never done this before) I will taste the liquid (my container comes with a very convenient spigot at the bottom) and adjust the sweetness should I choose to do so with more simple syrup, or maybe add a vanilla bean or some whole allspice or whatever strikes me as a good idea at the time.
Then I’ll let them sit some more. That is, until it turns cold and I start craving a Manhattan.