Keeping the pits in the cherries gives the preserves a subtle almond flavor and eliminates an arduous task. Just remember to warn diners about the pits before they savor the preserve (or, if you prefer, pit the cherries). Spoon the preserves over ice cream for a winter dessert.
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 lbs dark, sweet cherries such as Bing (about 8 cups), stems removed
Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids.
In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Add 2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cherries, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring gently, for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a rimmed baking sheet or a large platter, spreading them out in an even layer. Cook the syrup until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Return the cherries to the pan and cook for 1 minute to heat through.
Using the slotted spoon, divide the hot cherries evenly among the jars. Ladle the syrup over the cherries, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.
Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Cherries Preserved in Wine
Substitute 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) each water and fruity red wine, such as Zinfandel or Cabernet Franc for the 2 cups of water and 1/4 cup lemon juice.
This recipe comes from the William-Sonoma cookbook “The Art of Preserving by Weldon Owen.”
Image: Weldon Owen Publishing