The arrival of cherries means the dreariness of winter is definitely over, and I can finally look forward to a long, delicious summer of fresh apricots, raspberries, nectarines, peaches, and plums. Once cherries became reasonable at the market this is a great way to use and preserve them when the price drops and when the season is in full swing, or nearing the end, I find myself using fresh cherries as fast as I can pit ‘em.
Although you might think it’s funny to candy fresh something fresh, there are times perhaps your cherries aren’t super-flavorful (like too early or too late in the season) and candying augments and intensifies flavor. And as a bonus, you’ll end up with a lovely brilliant-red syrup which you can mix with Champagne for a fizzy and festive kir Royale. Once candied, these cherries will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Spoon them over vanilla ice cream, stir them into yogurt, and toss them with nectarines or peaches for a summer cobbler.
Quick Candied Cherries
- 1 pound (450 g) fresh sweet or sour cherries, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Remove the stems and pit the cherries (I use a handheld cherry pitter.)
In a large non-reactive saucepan (at least 4 quarts/liters) bring the cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil.
Reduce the heat so the cherries are cooking at a low rolling boil. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure the cherries are cooking evenly and not sticking.
Once the syrup is mostly reduced and a brilliant ruby-color, similar to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat and cool the cherries to room temperature.
After the cherries are cool, they can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen in zip-top freezer bags for up to one year.
Recommended Cherry Pitters
OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter: Like all Oxo products, this one gets high marks from users.
Leifheit Cherry Pitter: All-metal cherry pitter, popular in Europe.
Leifheit Pro-Line Cherry Pitter: (I love that name!) This is a terrific tool if you have a lot of cherries to pit. Keeps the cherries in a container, so it’s less-messy to use than others.