Brandied cherries are an easy way to preserve the sweet and tangy taste of summer cherries to enjoy later in the year. Use them in cocktails or serve with ice cream. The flavored brandy can be served on its own or use it to make an amazing Manhattan Cocktail.
These cherries can be hot water-processed so you can store them in the cupboard, or simply popped into the fridge and allowed to mellow there. If you want to can them, but a canning kettle on to boil before you start pitting the cherries.
- Pit the cherries. If you have a cherry pitter, great, but if you don't have one, there's no need to panic or rush out a buy one; a thin skewer, orange stick (as for manicures), unbent paper clip, or similar item works simply and easily to pop the pit out of cherries (if you haven't pitted cherries before, see how to pit cherries for tips). Whatever you use to pit them, do so over a bowl to catch any juices, and you can just add the pitted cherries to the juices as you go. Set the pitted cherries aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and add the lemon juice, cardamom pods, whole cloves, whole allspice, and cinnamon stick. Gently simmer until the mixture is slightly reduced and thickened (and your kitchen smells amazing!), about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Stir the brandy into the spiced sugar syrup. Add the pitted cherries and their juices.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a 1-quart jar (if you have a jar or canning funnel, this is a great time to use it). Pour enough of the liquid over the cherries to cover them completely while still leaving about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar. Twist on the lid.
- You can take the easy route and simply put the jar in the fridge, letting it hang out in the back for at least 6 weeks for the cherries and spiced brandy have some time to hang out and get to know each other better. Or, process in boiling water for 10 minutes, let cool, and store in a cool, dark place (such as a cupboard) for at least 6 weeks before using. Once opened, keep chilled.