Oh, you guys. I have so many interesting things all photographed and in recipe-notes form… but I am suffering from the worst case of writer’s block. And I know the best cure for writer’s block is to just effing write.
So, I might as well write about the coolest thing I’ve gotten to do in awhile. I got to take a preserving class and make cocktail cherries and cherry pit syrup with Stephanie McClenny of Confituras at Whole Foods fabulous new store at the Domain. How cool is that?
I’ve been a huge fan of Confituras since moving the Austin and learning about Stephanie’s sublime products. Frankly, I kinda have a crush on her — she’s my canning idol. Her recipes are just mouth-watering, and they’re all made in small batches and locally sourced. My all-time favorite is her Rio Red Grapefruit Vanilla Bean Jam.
And here it is, cherry season.
And I do love cherries. We all know, further, that I love a good cocktail, so these two recipes go hand-in hand. Plus, one uses the pits from the other — you can’t go wrong! Make them both at once and reap the rewards for weeks to come.
The cocktail cherries are made with port, and are infinitely more delicious than any florescent red maraschino cherry you might find on a typical store’s shelves. They’re prefect for garnishing a cocktail or even a homemade soda (perhaps even one you’ve made with that cherry syrup).
Speaking of which… the cherry pit syrup is brilliant, too. It gets a deep, vanilla, okay flavor from the pits, and it makes a great mixer with soda or prosecco (a combination I tried out a the class, taking advantage of the mimosa and sangria bar generously provided by Whole Foods). The other night, I shook some up with whiskey and added a splash of soda — a great, easy cocktail. You can also pour it over pancakes or waffles, or even ice cream. Enjoy!
- 1½ cup ruby port
- ½ cup sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1¼ pound Bing cherries, pitted
- Place port, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Add cherries and continue to simmer on medium heat for about 1 minute.
- Ladle cherries into a clean quart glass jar, pouring port mixture over.
- Allow to cool until room temperature, then and refrigerate for at a few days before serving. Keeps for up to a year refrigerated. Enjoy!
- 1 pound Bing cherries
- Leftover cherry pits
- ½ cup water
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (or to taste)
- ½ cup sugar
- Place cherries through peppercorns in medium sauce and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until cherries begin to lose their color. Remove from heat and strain liquid.
- Add sugar and bring to a boil once again, lower heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by about ⅓ and appears syrup-like.
- Add almond extract to taste. Allow to cool slightly then decant into a bottle and chill. Keeps for several months refrigerated.
Note: Whole Foods invited me to participate in the preserving class free of charge, but I was not otherwise compensated for this write-up, and my opinions are my own.