Happy Valentine’s Day! Since it is Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to share my festive looking cherries, because they are the appropriate Valentine color. Since we have moved to Manhattan, I have fallen in love with the Manhattan cocktail. I like the idea that I can order a Manhattan in Manhattan, and I am on a mission to find the best Manhattan in the city. My current favorite is from a speakeasy called 67 Orange Street; they make oodles of yummy beverages. When I am home and in the mood for a Manhattan, I usually have Derika make me one. I have to admit that her Manhattan skills are pretty legit. The only thing that we have been missing, are the amazing boozy cherries that come with the fancy bar Manhattans. The maraschino cherries from the store just aren’t right! Santa must have heard me talking about making my own boozy cherries, because this Christmas I got my very own cherry pitter…I am so excited! Unfortunately, it is not the time of year to buy fresh cherries in NYC. However, on New Year’s Eve we were out grocery shopping, and low and behold there was a mountain of fresh cherries on sale. Now I know that it is not the time of year to buy cherries, but I had a cherry pitter burning a whole in my pocket. So I bought a pound of cherries and tried not to think about it. Don’t hate me; I just couldn’t wait until summer. I raced home with my guilty purchase, and a mission to make some bourbon cherries for our Manhattans. Here is what I came up with…
- 1 LB cherries (pitted if possible), washed & well dried
- 2 1/2 C Water
- 1 C Sugar
- 1 Lemon for Juice
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 4-8oz Bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
- 4 – 8oz mason jars
1. Place the water and sugar in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a light boil, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.
2. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Remove from the heat. Yay, you just made simple syrup!
3. Wash your cherries and pit them with your fancy cherry pitter. You don’t have to pit your cherries for this recipe, just warn your guests before you make them a cocktail with you non-pitted cherries. 🙂
4. After you make your simple syrup, sterilize your jars, lids and rings in which you want the cherries to go. You can do this in a deep wide stockpot with one of those old-fashioned metal steamers laid out in the bottom. This will keep the jars off the bottom of the pot so they don’t break. Fill the pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Using a pair of canning tongs (I have this ball utensil set ), carefully place the jars, lids and rings in the water so they fit comfortably. The jars should have 1″to 2″ of water above the them while you boil them for about 15 minutes. Carefully lift jars, lids and rings out of the water and set aside on a clean, dry surface. Yay, your jars are sterilized!
5. Now using very clean hands, place the cherries in the jars with 3/4 inch of headspace left over. Pour the simple syrup over the cherries, (still leaving that 3/4 inch of space at the top) and pour 1 to 2 ounces of bourbon over the entire mixture. This should leave you with 1/2″ of headspace. If you need more liquid, just add more bourbon. 🙂
6. Secure rims and lids on the jars. I decided that it would be fun to can my cherries. I have never canned anything before, but it has been on my list of things to try. You don’t have to can your cherries, but if you want to can them place the sealed jars back in the boiling water to ensure seal for 15 minutes.
7. Carefully remove from the water and allow to set. You may hear a “ping” noise coming from the jars – this is an excellent sign. Once cool, check to make sure the rings have in fact sealed and refrigerate any that don’t. While you should use unsealed cherries within a couple weeks, the sealed ones will last for a year at least.
I waited for about a month before I opened a jar of my cherries, I think the waiting was the hardest part. What I noticed is that over time, the syrup that the cherries were in started to change from a pink to a valentine red color. Sooo pretty!
I was so excited about how the cherries turned out, they were boozy and sweet! To our excitement, the cherry syrup was the secret ingredient that our homemade Manhattans were missing! Have fun making these, and have even more fun eating them. Try not to eat all of these cherries in one sitting, but I won’t blame you if you do!
Manhattan recipe coming soon. 😉
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