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Brandied cherry question

A poster on the SF board asked ...

"Do you follow proper canning type techniques, or just trust the bourbon to keep stuff from growing in the jar?"

That was in response to someone who mentioned a local joint to buy dried cherries to brandy ... interesting idea. Also someone asked if frozen cherries are worth brandy-ing.

Anyway, when I brandy fresh cherries, I rely mainly on the alchohol. To me, heating would destroy the texture of the cherry.

I do clean the jars very well though don't really steralize. The other caveat is I keep them in the fridge.

So what is the opinion about the safe way to brandy cherries?

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  1. I mentioned the dried cherries in the original post. I just toss enough into a small jar
    to leave some room at the top and then fill to cover with something strong. Currently it's 100 proof rye, and I've used 80 proof bourbon. A few weeks in the fridge and they're ready for the manhattan party. The first time I remember having them was at the bar at the Old Coast Inn in Ft. Bragg, CA where they had a big jug full soaking in vodka (don't go out of your way, but it's a decent place to stop on your way through town ...). I asked the bartender, OMGWTFBBQ! What are these they're great?! when I got a drink with a toothpick with about five of them on it and she divulged the secret recipe above.

    I figure the dried cherries were going to preserve themselves all on their own, as would the bourbon, so mixing them together shouldn't cause any untoward reactions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chuckles the Clone

      Dang! That sounds GOOOOD, Manhattan lover that I am. Sounds like a good Xmas present too!

    2. I have two batches of sour cherries in the fridge, one batch in bourbon and the other in maraschino liqueur. When I run out of cherries, I hold onto the booze in the fridge until the next batch of sour cherries comes in. Then I put them in the old jars and top them off with more booze. Been doing this for about four years now. It never occurred to me they might go bad--and they never have.

      10 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        Question: I made some a couple of months ago, according to an earlier chowhound post. I finally tried them...the cherries are rock hard. Are they supposed to be that way? Do they soften if they come to room temp?

        1. re: Tom P

          Did you use sour cherries? Regular cherries usually puff up alot.

          1. re: Tom P

            I don't understand that at all. Never had it happen--with either sour or sweet cherries. And no, mine are munchable right out of the fridge. Were the cherries ripe and edible when you first put them up?

            1. re: JoanN

              They were a beautiful bunch of cherries when I started, very fresh. They are, I guess, kind of edible. Crunchy! But I was thinking they would be soft. I'll have to try again, I guess, not sure what I did wrong.

              1. re: Tom P

                Crunchy? Did you remember to pit them... ? :)

                Dried cherries soften a little from their dried state but are still a bit leathery. Gives them a nice not-immediately-obvious-what-you're-eating character.

                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                  Wait a minute. Rock hard is a different description than crunchy. I'm guessing you might have picked up the tip from one of my posts which is just putting unpitted cherries, sugar and brandy in a jar and sticking them in the fridge a couple of months.

                  Yes they are crunchy, but I don't think significanlty different than the crunch or snap of a fresh cherry.

                  They will not be soft like a pie filling cherry. If you want that texture, then they would need to be cooked.

                  1. re: rworange

                    You mean he might be eating the pits? Yeah that would make them somewhat crunchy!
                    I didn't remove my pits either, where did I read that it imparts an almondy flavor, but they still puffed up pretty good, I used giant size Bing cherries. I think I even left the stems on.

                    1. re: coll

                      Ha! No, I am not eating the pits. And yes, rworange, that is what I did. I guess I expected them to be soft. They are pretty damn hard. What do you do with them?

                      1. re: Tom P

                        In no way could mine be called "pretty damn hard." A bit crunchy? Yes. Pretty damn hard? Absolutely not. I save the pitted sour cherries in Maraschino liqueur for Manhattans. (Only problem is when guest guzzle the drink to get to the cherries. Pacing! Pacing!) I use the sweet cherries in bourbon or brandy in baked goods, lighly sauteed in butter with a bit of the syrup to serve on ice cream and pancakes and with duck.

                        1. re: Tom P

                          Usually as is for dessert. One year I pitted them and served them on top of pound cake or ice cream but I didn't like the appearance or less crunchy texture.

          2. I have a jar of Girottines, imported from France, in my fridge right now. They are morello cherries marinated in kirsch and with a bit of sugar. OMG they are wonderful. MY DH uses them in his manhattan. I just eat them out of the jar or over ice cream.

            1. I have some bottled sour cherries in syrup that I just got. Was planning to put them on the bottom of a souffle dish and then put chocolate souffle on top. I bet your boozed cherries would be even better.

              But I'm not clear on what cherries you all are using. Are you using dried sour cherries? Aren't those usually sugared? If so, does that matter?

              1. My ma (old school Italian lady) always did sweet cherries - unpitted - in pure grain alcohol - no refrigeration or other preservation needed - they arent what i'd call delicious, buta couple when ur feeling like a drink - and ur floating - u do get kinda used to em . And when the cherries r all gone - u have this cherry flavored alcohol to gargle with when u have a cold. needless to say , i have a lot of colds - whenever I can.

                2 Replies
                1. re: dibob817

                  all you is quality fresh cherries and good brandy. fill sterilized jars and lids with the two ingrediants and hand tighten the lids. now put in a dry cool place and let it age. we have ten to fifteen year old cherry brandy. the cherries change from red to white color. thats when your ready for your first vintage about a year.

                  1. re: buck mac

                    Plums plus gin plus two years is also really, really great but that's probably a topic for a different thread ....