Sour Cherry Liqueur

by rivka on June 13, 2010 · 10 comments

in appetizers, drinks, easy-as-a-1-2-3, techniques, various and sundry

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It’s officially sour cherry season! I got my first quart at the market today, and I simply can’t wait to turn them into this lovely aperitif. Originally posted last July, sour cherry liqueur is back!

Want to do something awesomely cool and really flippin’ easy along with me? Make sour cherry liqueur. It’s the height of sour cherry season, and markets are bursting with those tart little bubbles of juice. The season’s pretty short: I was thinking of hitting up a u-pick next week to get some sour cherries out in the countryside for cheap, but they said they’ll be gone by Sunday. So grab some now, like, now now, and put them to use in a way that’ll keep well into the fall.

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My dear friend Dellie had D and me over for an early Thanksgiving dinner last November, and her mother served this liqueur as an aperitif. I was totally blown away: it was sweet, very sweet, but also tart and zingy. It tasted strongly and distinctly of sour cherries, and sipping it sent waves of summer nostalgia down my spine. I sauntered into the kitchen where I found the always-graceful Mrs. S pulling a whole turkey out of the oven to rest. What better time to bother someone for a recipe? She said to come knocking again when it was sour cherry season, and she’d give me the rundown. Unlike most other things, I didn’t forget this promise, and last week, I emailed Mrs. S begging her recipe. She graciously obliged, and her instructions were so thorough that I can easily share them with you. Granted, you won’t be tasting the fruits of your labor until the fall — but if you feel like preserving some of summer’s bounty in this unusual way, I can promise that your patience will be well-rewarded.

That's a knife jutting out of the pitcher -- I used it to stir the stuff, and I did fill it to the top after taking the pic.

That's a knife jutting out of the pitcher -- I used it to stir the stuff, and I did fill it to the top after taking the pic.

Update! I’ve stirred (and tasted) the sour cherry liqueur twice now, and it is freakin’ amazing!

Sour Cherry Liqueur
adapted from Mrs. S’s recipe

For this recipe, you will need a crock of some sort: Mrs. S’s crocks are salt-glazed antique crocks made in central Va. over 100 years ago, for preserving & storing foods. I’m not that fancy; I just used a relatively large ceramic pitcher. You can use anything that is dark glass or ceramic of some similar sort.

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The quantities used really depend on the size of your crock, so the instructions below are in proportions instead of absolute amounts.

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Cherries: clean & pit the cherries, except that for every cup of cherries, leave about 1/8 of the cup unpitted (adds character & depth to the liqueur)
Sugar: use about 3/4 cup sugar for every cup of cherries (cherries should be tightly packed). I used organic cane sugar, but white sugar is just fine. In fact, I can’t promise that my cane sugar will work — I just assumed. Here’s hoping!

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Fill the crock 1/2 – 2/3 full of cherries & sugar (in proportions above), and stir. Then fill to the brim with white rum, and stir. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (using a rubber band to secure it) and foil (to shut out light), and store in a dark, cool place. Stir with a wooden or plastic non-reactive spoon about once a week. The sugar may take about a month or so to fully dissolve. Taste from time to time: cherries that are very sour may require additional sugar once the first batch has dissolved completely.

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It should be ready mid-September. The cherries will have lost much of their color, and the sugar will have all dissolved. The flavor should be pretty rich. You can pour into decorative (dark glass) bottles and cork, but leave a few pitted cherries in each bottle. The “extra” cherries are great on pound cake, over ice cream, or however you would use canned cherries.

You could add cinnamon sticks, if you like, but Mrs. S likes the purity and simplicity of cherries.

So pack your crocks and get ready to wait — let’s do this thing!

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