Made From Scratch: Brandied Cherries

You'll never reach for those neon-red cherries again after you make – and taste – brandied cocktail cherries made in your own kitchen.

Brandied Cherries || A Less Processed Life

A couple of weeks ago my brother was in Wisconsin for a conference held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and after it ended he headed north to visit us in Rhinelander.

Brandied Cherries || A Less Processed Life

While he was here we roadtripped to Door County to get in a little cherry picking before the season ended. The first thing we did when we arrived in Door County was make a stop at Sweetie Pies for a fresh slice of pie. (It is very important to fuel up before an afternoon of cherry picking, ha ha.) We also picked up a frozen cherry pie to bring home with us.

After satisfying our appetites, we headed to Zettel Farms in Baileys Harbor to pick sweet and tart cherries. We ended up with a pail of each ... for a total of 8 pounds of cherries.

Brandied Cherries || A Less Processed Life

The downside of picking eight pounds of cherries is having to pit eight pounds of cherries. I started with the sweet cherries, which were destined for a few different canning projects. For the first batch, I made brandied cherries, which are the perfect complement to a brandy old-fashioned. These cherries are lightly spiced, delightfully boozy, and full of sweet cherry flavor.

Brandied Cherries (printer-friendly version)
makes 4 pints

1 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole allspice
3 blades star anise
1 spent vanilla bean
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups brandy
2 pounds sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted

1. Sterilize four pint jars in boiling water and let dry. Add the cherries in even amounts to the sterilized jars and set aside.
2. In a large sauce pot, combine the sugar and water and heat over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely in the water. Add the cinnamon stick, allspice, star anise, and spent vanilla bean and bring the mixture to a boil.
3. After the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Remove the sauce pot from the heat and stir in the almond extract and brandy. Remove the spent vanilla bean.
5. Use a ladle to carefully fill each of the jars with the liquid, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
6. Place the lids on the jars and store and process the jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. (See this chart for exact processing time depending on your altitude.) After canning, carefully remove the hot jars from the water bath and place on a heat-safe smooth surface and leave undisturbed overnight.
7. Wait at least one week before using the cherries – the longer they sit, the better they will taste.

Brandied Cherries || A Less Processed Life

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