The pleasure of fresh cherries is fleeting, so while there may be nothing better than eating them soon after they are picked, if you want to enjoy them year round, canning is the answer. This year I decided to make bourbon cherries from the wonderfully sweet cherries kindly sent to me by the Northwest Cherry Growers
as part of the “Canbassador” program. They are terrific in cocktails but also spooned over vanilla ice cream.
This year I finally bit the bullet and bought a canner, it’s a small one, it holds 7 pint jars which is just fine for me. Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of canning accoutrement—the jar lifter, the jar funnel and the lid lifter. I use a variety of jars, but am particularly fond of the Ball® Sharing Jars
I received from Ball® Home Canning
. Designed for gifting, the company that produces them makes a donation to Feeding America
for every package purchased (up to $150k).
This year I used a recipe from Ball but I’ve expanded the recipe instructions to include all the steps you need to take. I’ve also replaced the brandy in their recipe with bourbon. I recommend choosing a delicious bourbon that isn’t too hot and has vanilla, spice and caramel flavors to complement the cherries.
|The sharing jars are on the right, a classic Ball jar is on the left
Bourbon Cherries – adapted from Ball Canning
Makes about 6 or 7 pints
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 pounds cherries, washed, stemmed and pitted
1 1/4 cups bourbon
Get your jars, lids and band rims ready. Wash pint canning jars with soapy water. Rinse the jars throughly and place in a canner or very large pot. Fill the pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot large enough to hold all of the cherries. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to make sure the sugar is fully disolved. Add the cherries. When heated through add take the pot off the stove and add the bourbon.
Lift the jars out of the water, emptying the water back into the pot as you go. Ladle the cherry mixture into the hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Wipe the rims and twist the rim band until “fingertip” tight. Place the jars careully into the boiling waterthen boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to rest for 5 minutes in the canner. Remove the jars and allow to rest to 12 hours before testing to make sure the jars are properly sealed. Store for up to one year.