These have been in the making since May, and they are the perfect way to inject some summer sunshine into this cold, icy weather. Back in May, during the height of cherry season, I had the idea to preserve some cherries in brandy.
So, my mom and I gathered pounds and pounds of cherries, and we started pitting them. This entire process made me think about the times prior to globalization--back when you ate what was both local and in season. If you ate cherries or green beans or figs in the wintertime, it's because you jarred them or canned them to preserve them. Now, you can find most fruits at any time of the year because, well, It's summertime somewhere.
This wasn't my first experience with preserving fruit. My family used to make strawberry preserves every spring. Spring and summer are my favorite Louisiana seasons since they are harvest seasons for so many fruits that I love--strawberries, blueberries, and figs to name a few. I have fond memories of being a little girl and picking strawberries with my family on my cousin's land. My dad and I would fill huge crates of strawberries. My older sister and mom would stay in the car because they didn't want to get their hands dirty.
My cousin still owns and farms the land himself--at the age of 95! This cousin (and fellow food enthusiast) is actually the nephew of my Great Great Grandmother and namesake, Lucy Vallery. The foodie genes certainly run deep in my family!
Brandied Cherry Cocktails
I haven't gotten around to making the cherry cordials just yet, so I decided to make a cocktail using the brandied cherries. I named this cocktail BCC, Brandied Cherries Champagne. Just drop a couple of brandied cherries in the bottom of a champagne flute, with a tablespoon of their preserving liquor. Top off with your favorite Champagne (rose Champagnes work wonderfully!) This drink is a great apperatif. You can also serve it at breakfast and call it a Cherry Mimosa. My family loved having these at breakfast with both the homemade cinnamon rolls and the sweet potato waffles (luckily, Champagne cocktails pair perfectly with everything!)
Brandied Cherries Recipe
Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 pound fresh cherries (pitted), 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 cardamom pods, 2 whole cloves, 2 whole allspice, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 cup brandy, 1-quart jar with lid
1. In a medium saucepan bring sugar, water, lemon juice, and spices to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the mixture is slightly reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.
2. Turn off the heat. Stir in the brandy and the pitted cherries.
3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a 1-quart jar. Pour enough of the cooking liquid over the cherries to cover them completely. Twist on lid.
4. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes, let cool, and store in a cool, dark place (such as a cupboard) for at least 6 weeks before using. Once opened, keep chilled. Alternatively, you can forgo the hot-water processing and store in the refrigerator.