Cherry season is well under way here in San Diego, and the farmers' market has been selling wonderful juicy bing cherries for over a month now. The season in San Diego lasts for several months starting in mid-late May, so now is the time to buy them at their best.
As the cherry season is short in most areas, preserving them is a great way to prolong the season, and they can be used in sweet and savory dishes. This recipe for cherries in red wine can be done safely using a hot water canner, as the cherries have high acidity, as do the wine and orange juice. You will need 4 Ball or Kerr pint jars, together with lids and bands to make this recipe. Alternatively, if you do not wish to hot water can the fruit, simply make the recipe and refrigerate the fruit, but use within 2-3 days.
Recipe for Cherries in Red Wine
Ingredients (makes 4 pints)
- 2 quarts red wine
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups orange juice
- 24 whole cloves
- 16 3-inch strips orange zest
- 4 pounds Bing cherries, pitted (about 8 cups)
- Place the wine, sugar, orange juice, cloves, and orange zest in a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Have ready 4 scalded pit jars and their bands (to scald, dip the jars in boiling water. You don't need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for more than 10 mins).
- Simmer new lids in a small pan of hot water to soften the rubberized flange.
- Add the cherries to the wine, simmer for 10 minutes, until they are soft but not collapsed.
- Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon, and ladle them into the hot jars.
- Reduce the wine mixture to about half its volume.
- Strain the wine mixture, and pour over the cherries in jars, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 inch headspace.
- Wipe the rims, set on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.
- Place the jars in a big pot with a rack in the bottom and add enough water to cover he jars by 3 inches.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and gently boil the jars for 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, allow the jars to rest in the water for 5 minutes, and then remove.
- Allow the jars to cool, untouched, for4 to 6 hours.
- Check the seals, and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.
This fruit is amazing drizzled over pound cake, cheesecake, or served in tall glasses with whipped cream, ice cream, or yogurt. It makes an elegant dessert in minutes, and looks stunning with the dark fruit.
It can also be served with savory dishes, if you heat it first. More recipes can be found alongside this one in the book, Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone, a great book for anyone interested in home canning.