One of my goals for 2021 was to do something with fresh, local, Ontario Sour Cherries. Of course, my first impulse [And wasn’t it the best of impulses? I think so!] was to make a batch of cocktail cherries akin to last year’s Boozy Cocktail Cherries. The main difference between my two recipes was that I made a slightly thicker/sweeter syrup to balance out the sourness of these cherries and to ensure a proper can. I also adopted the practice of simmering my cherries before canning, as it results in less shrinking post that 20-25 minute bath in the boiling pot of water. Here’s my recipe! Enjoy!
Boozy Sour Cocktail Cherries
- 3 Pint, 6 Half-pint, or 12 Quarter-pint Mason Jars, or a mixture thereof, sterilized and warm, with clean rims, and new lids
- Canning Equipment: Large Canning Pot, Metal Rack, Tongs, Funnel, Ladle
- Cherry Pitter
- Heavy Bottomed Non-Reactive Pot and spoon for making syrup
- 6 cups Sour Cherries stemmed and pitted
- 2 1/4 cups Sugar
- 3 3/4 cups Water
- 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
- 1/4 cup Lemon Juice [bottled is acceptable]
- 3/4 cup Spirits [I use Bourbon or Rye]
- 6-8 OPTIONAL: Cinnamon Sticks [2 for the boil, 4-6 for the jars. I divide the sticks into halves for the half-pint jars and thirds for the quarter-pint jars.]
- Sterilize the mason jars and warm the lids. [I like to keep my sterilized jars in a slightly warm oven so that when they are filled with the hot liquid, they do not suffer shock.]
- Clean, stem and pit the cherries.
- In a pot over medium heat, combine the sugar, water, maple syrup, and lemon juice, and 2 cinnamon sticks [optional].
- Stir this mixture hard until the sugar dissolves and then bring up to a gentle boil.
- Add the cherries to the pot, bring to a simmer and simmer on low for 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the boiled cinnamon sticks from the liquid and compost.
- Add 1/8 to a 1/4 cup spirits and 1 fresh cinnamon stick to each pint jar, 1/16 to 1/8 cup spirit and 1/2 cinnamon stick to each half-pint jar, or 1 tbs spirits and 1/3 cinnamon stick to each quarter-pint jar. [Cinnamon sticks are optional.]
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the cherries from the syrup, and pack them into the jars fairly firmly but without crushing, leaving about 3/4 in headspace in the top.
- Top the jars with the remaining sugar-syrup, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace at the top of each jar. [1/4 inch is find for the quarter-pint jars.]
- At this point, if you don't want to properly can your cherries in a boiling water bath, allow them to sit on a counter and cool. Then, refrigerate for two weeks before opening. Consume within 6-8 weeks after opening.
- Seal the jars with lids and rims and process in the boiling water bath for 25 minutes. [20 minutes is fine for the quarter-pint jars.]
- Take the top off of the canning bath, turn off the heat, and leave the jars to sit in the canner for 5 more minutes.
- Remove the jars upright from the canner, place on wire racks or a protected surface, and allow to cool completely. Check for a good seal on the lid. Gently remove screw caps. Wipe and dry the jars and replace the rims [not too tightly.]
- Label and store in a cool dark place. Leave the jars for at least 2 weeks before sampling. Properly canned, they will last for 1-2 years on the shelf before opening. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks.