Pickled Sour Cherries
Pickled sour cherries have a pale red colour, tender flesh and a distinct tartness that raises eyebrows but leaves you wanting for more.
Sour cherries come as fresh fruit, canned or jarred. For pickling purposes it’s best to use fresh fruit. The standard recipe uses red wine vinegar, and a mix of sweet and savory spices such as cinnamon, clove and pepper which are boiled together. Clean, dry and de-stone the cherries, then place inside sterilized jars. Take out the cloves - because they impart a very strong flavor - pour the vinegar mix into the jars and let them cool. Close the jars tight and store in a cool, dark place for some weeks after which they are ready to eat.
Other pickled sour cherries recipes use distilled white vinegar. After stemming, cleaning and de-seeding, the fruits are soaked in vinegar for 24 hours. Drain off the fruit, then get an equal of amount of white sugar. In a crock dish, arrange a layer of cherries followed by a layer of sugar. Repeat the layering until all the fruit is used up. Place a small plate on top of the cherries as a weight, then cover the crock with a kitchen towel. Stir the mixture daily for the next one week. Pour the cherries into sterilized jars, set in a boiling bath for a quarter of an hour and store in a cool, dark place.
Some people pickle them with the pits still inside. Trying to take stones out of pickled sour cherries can be rather messy and irritating to the fingers so pitting beforehand is a good idea. If you didn’t pit the fruit before pickling, remember to provide a seed pitter when serving sour cherries to your guests.
Pickled sour cherries can be eaten on their own but the also make great ingredient for many dishes whereby they add a lovely tartness to the meal. Try adding them to a leafy green salad or a broccoli salad with a sweet brand of dressing. Or use them as a topping on ice-cream or a custard sauce. They’re also a wonderful accompaniment to a plate of cold cut meats or with a selection of ‘charcuterie’ such as chicken liver, terrines and cheeses.
Naturally pickled sour cherries make an exceptional filling for fruit pies and cobblers. You can replace all the fruit with the cherries, but a mixed fruit filling gives a special flavor of sweet and sour.
Pickling sour cherries is a cooking tradition in many countries around the world. In France one can purchase them as “Les cerises aux vinaigres”. They are particularly enjoyed in the Lorraine, Alsace and the north-eastern areas of France where they are sold in exclusive grocery shops. They are served with cold chicken and meat-filled pies, and they regularly feature as a relish for grilled duck, wild fowl or ‘pot-au-feu’ dishes.
In Japan there is a certain local variety of sour-tasting cherries known as ‘Sakurambo’ which are quite different from foreign cherries. Sakurambo are especially good for pickling and for making puddings similar to the French baked fruit pie called ‘clafoutis’.
If you are a cherry lover you may want to read our article on cherries health benefits. You will be happy to find cherries not only taste great but are one of the most healthy fruits you can eat