Spiced Pickled Cherries

Pickled Cherries
Pickled Cherries. Photo © Molly Watson
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: Makes 2 pints (8 servings)
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Cherries at my house get eaten out of hand or shuffled into desserts about 99% of the time, but at least once a season I make the effort to pit and pickle a few pints of these spiced cherries. Once you try them, you'll see how their bright flavor works to perk up savory preparations of all sorts. I've been known to toss them into salads and into sandwiches for a burst of tart cherry-iness. Having them around to serve with pâté or add to platters of charcuterie is reason enough to set aside an hour or so to make these pickled devils.

For a few variations on the theme of these pickles, scroll to the end of the recipe. If you'd prefer something sweeter, check out these Brandied Cherries instead.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound cherries (use sweet cherries
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

How to Make It

  1. Rinse the cherries and pat them dry.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and red pepper flakes (if using them) to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pit the cherries. If you have a cherry pitter, use it! If not, use an unbent paperclip, manicure orange stick, small tweezers, or the end of a small skewer to poke it and "pop" out the pit. Whichever way you pit them, work over a bowl to catch any cherry juice. (Never pitted cherries before? See How to Pit Cherries to see how it's done.)
  1. Put the pitted cherries and their juice in even amounts in two 1-pint jars or one 1-quart jar. 
  2. Pour even amounts of the vinegar mixture into the jars to cover the cherries. Screw on the lids and let the jars sit to cool to room temperature. Chill for at least a week before using and up to 2 months (the pickles will still be edible after 2 months, but I find their texture starts to get a tad on the mushy side for my taste).

Note: These are "refrigerator" pickles and haven't been hot-water processed or canned, so they are not shelf-stable and need to be kept in the fridge.

Variations:

  • Add a few cloves, a cinnamon stick, and a pod or two of cardamom to give these pickles a warm spice note
  • Tuck in a sprig of fresh rosemary to each jar for pickles with a strong herbal scent
  • Leave out the spices entirely for even simpler cherry pickles—just boil the vinegar, water, and sugar together.