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Drink Tue Jul 20 2010

Cherries are in Season, Time for a Drink!

cherries glass.JPGLet's face it, store-bought maraschino cherries are just too darn sweet. If you're cocktail-savvy, perhaps you've had straight bourbon-soaked cherries. Last week I stumbled upon a recipe I thought I could tweak to fall somewhere in the middle.

The idea was to make a bourbon-soaked cherry with a twist. Straight bourbon might be a little much, so I grabbed my partner's bottle of homemade limoncello, picked up a quart of sour cherries at the Logan Square Farmer's Market, and got to work. After some tinkering and tasting, I came up with the following recipe:

1 pint sour cherries, pitted
1/3 cup limoncello + 2/3 cup bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)

First, if you are pitting the cherries yourself, might I recommend you not wear a white shirt? If you're anything like me, you'll end up with cherry boob. Second, I'd recommend you get a $13 cherry pitter, because pitting cherries is tedious work.

Next, heat the liquor in a small saucepan until it just starts to bubble; on my gas stove this took maybe a minute. Pour in your pitted cherries and swish around to cover with liquor. Let sit and cool to room temperature, then place in glass containers, and refrigerate. It's recommended that you let them soak for 48 hours before using, and it took all of my willpower to wait that long. They will keep in the fridge for quite some time (several months, if you can make it that long).

May I also recommend that you tinker with other liquor combinations? For the second pint of cherries, I used 1/2 cup cherry liqueur with 1/2 cup bourbon. The limoncello/bourbon cherries came out slightly sweet with a prevalent lemon note, while the cherry liqueur/bourbon cherries had a bit more heat to them--almost bitter; but both cherries remained firm and retained their sour flavor as well. Use of sweet cherries will give you a different result, but likely pleasing nonetheless. For my next batch, I may try an orange liqueur, or perhaps some brandy or calvados; it'd be nice to make some flavored for the warmer months, but to be honest, I don't see them lasting that long.


Krystyna / July 20, 2010 11:17 AM

Jen, I would suggest skipping the $13 Oxo Pitter in favor of a more lo-fi, lo-tech solution.

If you have any safety pins lying around the house, sterilize those in boiling water and use them to pit the fruit.

Here's how: while holding a closed safety-pin by its head, insert the rounded end into the cherry at the stem-site. Once the rounded edge of the safety pin is underneath the cherry pit, scoop out the pit into the opening you created. Then, move on to the next cherry.

I can promise you that the integrity of the fruit will be preserved more successfully than the mashed fruit that is forced out by the pitter, and, in addition to that, there will be less juice loss.

jen / July 20, 2010 12:06 PM

I used a tiny paring knife and came away unscathed, not sure how I'd fare with a safety pin and these large fingers. worth a try, though!

Joey / July 20, 2010 1:33 PM

Nice! I did something similar last weekend - Rainier cherries in dark rum syrup. I used an unbent large paperclip to pit the cherries, and it worked really well.

Dan R / July 20, 2010 5:46 PM

What an exciting new voice in food writing! Can't wait to see what comes next!

printdude / July 23, 2010 12:07 PM

For some serious liquor filled, punch-you-in-the-face taste, reconstitute dried cherries in your favorite bourbon. It may take a week, depending on the dryness of the cherry, but HolyMackeral!

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