Pickling is one of the oldest known processes for preservation of food. While the advances in refrigeration techniques have pretty much eliminated the need for preservation techniques like pickling, the process still continues to thrive because of many other reasons. Many people enjoy the texture and flavor of pickled things. It is amazing that we can pickle almost anything. There are multiple techniques and ingredients that are used. The first things that come to mind when someone talks of pickles is generally dependent on who the person is. If you ask me, I would say the mango pickle that my grandmother makes every year. But other types of pickles include cucumber, peppers, meats and a whole range of vegetables and fruits.
It is almost summer, and June is the peak season for sweet cherries in North America. It kind of makes sense, that we try to make of the most of this bounty. For today’s recipe, we have sweet and spicy pickled cherries.
Traditionally pickling is done using a brine solution or vinegar. A wide range of herbs and spices are also used for their germicidal properties and to impart flavor. While many parts of asia make use of the wonderful aromatic spices, the european and north american versions of pickles make use of vinegar. Some techniques of pickling enable the food to be stored at room temperature. Another type of pickling is “quick pickling” where the ingredients need to be stored at lowered temperatures or refrigerated for getting the shelf life. Generally traditional pickles do not spoil for years, whereas the “quick” pickled stuff can be used for a few weeks.
1 lb Sweet or Sour cherries, stems and pits intact
11/2 cup Cherry vinegar or Red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
2 pieces of Star anise
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Bay leaf
2 Chopped garlic cloves
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp Whole fennel seeds
For this recipe, I have tried to use spices that are slightly non traditional. Spices like star anise and fennel seeds are not just beautiful, they also add subtle flavors that add nuance to the regular spice profile that cinnamon and bay leaf have. The sweetness of cherries complements the strong flavors of the red wine vinegar and the spices add additional dimensions and aroma.
In a pot on medium heat , add all the ingredients except cherries and bring it to a boil. I used cherry vinegar as the base. Just as it begins to boil you can notice the aroma of spices over the strong smell of vinegar.
Close the lid and cook for 15-20 min in low to medium heat or until the liquid is reduced to 1/3rd of its volume. Meanwhile with a fork or toothpick, prick each cherry 4-5 times all over the fruit. Remove the pot from the heat and let the liquid cool down for 15-20 min.
Place all the cherries in clean airtight jar, pour the liquid over the cherries.Let everything cool down to room temperature before closing the lid. After about 2 days, you can see that the juices are drawn out from the cherries and all the flavors start blending together.
In order to prolong the shelf life, always use a clean and dry spoon for extracting the cherries. Keep the pickled cherries refrigerated.The longer they keep, the more wrinkly and more pale they become. They can be stored for about a month. You can serve these sweet and spicy cherries with strong cheeses or use them in making desserts or for snacking.
These pickled cherries also make a good gift. Use a fancy jar for pickling or add that unique spice blend to make it your signature gift. Go ahead… Get pickling 🙂
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Have a wonderful summer !! Try out some of the recipes on my blog and tell me what recipes you would like to be featured. I would love to hear some comments and suggestions from you 🙂