If I had to name five items that are obligatory in my baking repertoire, after The Big Four (sugar, butter, flour, and eggs), a bottle of kirsch is essential for me, right up there with vanilla, vying for numéro 5. A few drops of kirsch highlights and augments the flavor of peaches, nectarines, plums, and every kind of berry imaginable. And since it’s summer and all those fruits are ever-present in my kitchen, my slender bottle of kirsch hasn’t been returned to its perch on the liquor shelf since the first strawberries arrived a month ago.
A good bottle of kirsch runs about $40 (750ml) in the United States, although smaller bottles are less expensive. Why is it so darned pricey? Because it takes about 20-30 pounds of fruit to make a bottle of kirsch (also called kirschwasser). So even though I think I got a D- in high school math, it doesn’t take an honor student to calculate that 20 or 30 pounds of cherries, at let’s say…I dunno, $2/pound, makes that bottle suddenly seems like not such a bad deal after all.