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Pickling Summer Cherries

June was a month of cherries at our house.  And fun fact: Cherries have been my favorite fruit since childhood.  My mom used to buy me my own bag to eat all by myself every summer on our way to Camp Ne-o-Tez.  (There was a farm stand on our way… Chico’s in DeSoto, MO. Anybody know it?  Holla if you’ve been to Chico’s!)  I’d store my precious loot in the camp’s walk-in fridge, and sneak back there periodically throughout the hot days to gobble up a few perfect, juicy cherries.  (In between crawdad-catching sessions and pretending to be Pocahontas while canoeing in Crystal Falls.  Picture me, age 9 or so, standing like a statue in the front of a canoe, drifting to and fro and singing “How HIIIIIIIGH can the sycamore grow! If you cut it down, then you’l neeeeever knoooooowwwww!”)   I remember always wondering why everybody and their mama wasn’t as crazy about cherries as I was.  Anybody out there want to solve that mystery for me?

Pickled Cherries 2

Now that I’ve learned about the antioxidant benefits of eating dark, ruby red fruits, I’m an even bigger fan as an adult. (And so delighted to see that my Elsa loves them just as much as I do.  Fresh cherries are as much a treat to her as any candy!)  

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So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the Washington Fruit Commission asked be to be a “canbassador” for them again this year, to help teach you how to preserve summer’s sweetest harvests and enjoy them year-round.  Last year, they sent me mounds of gorgeous peaches that I turned into Honey Vanilla Peach Jam with Basil (and yes… you most definitely need to go make that recipe as soon as you can get your hands on some ripe peaches.  For now, you can just Pin it.) This year, rather than resorting to the obvious (jam) when given a canning assignment, I went a little more crazy.  I made Pickled Cherries and Spicy Maple Cherry Compote!  The idea of pickled cherries struck my fancy because my husband and I are HUGE lovers of wine and fancy cheese, and nothing sets off a cheese board like a nice bite of something pickled.  And wow, cherries are the perfect thing to pickle!  I just ate a few pickled cherries while typing this, in fact, and my tongue is still tingling (in a good way.)

Pickled Cherries 5The process is super simple, and super worth it!  You’ll need a few supplies you may not already have, but once you get them, you’ll use them for ages to come.

 >>A deep soup pot (with lid)

 >>Three or four 8 oz. canning jars with lids & rings

 >>Something to lift the hot jars out of the pot with (a jar lifter is great, but tongs are a decent stand-in.)

 >>A wide-mouth funnel

And of course you’ll also need a handy assistant (like mine) to pick stems off for you, and a clean space to lay out your tools (like mine… except notice the feet perched precariously close to the sanitized jars.  Yep, professional kitchen right here!  Only the best for the Pretty Hungry household!)

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Once the cherries and the pickling liquid are in the jars, you can process them in a water bath so that they’ll keep for up to a year in the pantry.  I highly recommend doing this. 1) Because it is fun and you will feel like Ma Ingalls.  And 2) Because the cherries will last so much longer that way! You can even give them away as Christmas gifts.  Just slap a cute label on there, a bow, and you have a one-of-a-kind homemade gift.  Here is my tutorial for processing your canned goodies in a water bath.  Easy peasy!

And here is the recipe for these Pickled Cherries.  When you make them, be sure to snap a pic and show it to me on Instagram so I can oooh and ahhh.

Pickled Summer Cherries
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The perfect way to preserve the tangy-sweet bite of summer cherries, without all the cloying added sugar of jam.
  • 1 C. raw sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pound fresh cherries pitted stems removed
  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, cloves, and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.
  2. Place cherries into 4 sterilized half-pint jars. Ladle in enough liquid to cover the cherries, filling the jars and allowing about a ½ inch head space. Place lids on jars and screw on lid rings til you meet solid resistance, but do not over-tighten. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes, if desired. If you process in a water-bath, the cherries will keep for about a year. If you do not, they will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.


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