Pickling a Summer Crop of Sour Cherries
My friend Stephanie surprised me with 5 pounds of sour cherries she and her husband picked in the Shenandoah, so I decided to pickle some of them for our summer food swap. I honestly didn’t even know it was possible to pickle cherries, but you can – I read that they’re delicious served alongside charcuterie, cheese, roast vegetables, or with pork, turkey, or venison. Of all the various methods and recipes online, I doubled this Russian Pickled Cherry recipe, which is adapted from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. You can make them with sweet cherries too.
The recipe doubled:
- 8 cups of cherries
- 4 cups of raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 1/3 cup of water
- 4 cardamon pods, crushed with a knife to open the pod
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 16 scrapes of a whole nutmeg with a grater
- 4 whole allspice berries
I had been storing the cherries in the freezer, so I started by thawing them a bit. I had a choice of pitting the cherries or not and decided to leave them in, so the cherries would keep their shape.
I measured out and rinsed 8 cups of cherries and then poured apple cider vinegar over them and covered the bowls with Saran wrap. I left them out on the counter over night.
The next day, I strained the liquid into a pot and added the sugar and spices and the brought the liquid to a boil. My family was not thrilled with the overpowering smell of vinegar.
After the liquid cooled down, I poured it back over the cherries, covered them with Saran wrap again, and let them sit for three days. Then, once again, I strained off the liquid into the pot, brought it to a boil and then let it cool. Meanwhile, I sterilized the jars (just the bottoms) for 10 minutes in boiling water. I washed the lids in soapy water. This is not a canning recipe because heating the cherries will damage them.
I filled each jar with cherries about an inch from the top and the poured the room temperature liquid over the cherries until they were completely covered.
You don’t have to refrigerate the pickled cherries due to the acidity of the vinegar. The recipe said to wait a month to serve them and that they can be stored for up to a year. After swapping a few jars, I still have more to use with Thanksgiving dinner this year.