Friday, June 22, 2012

Cherry Brandy

I had long-standing plans to go cherry picking in the Leona Valley last Wednesday, so I didn't join the Silver Lake Farms group on Thursday.  Turns out it was an early season this year due to early heat in the valley.  Many places were already closed for the year; and at the places that remained open, many trees were picked clean.  We got plenty of cherries, though, three varieties, too:  Bing, Queen Anne, and Montmorency.

I'm planning to preserve my bounty by drying cherries, making cherry preserves, and putting up some cherry brandy.  Making cherry brandy is super easy, but it has to steep and then age for several months.  Think of it as a holiday project, as it makes a lovely gift.  Or make it for yourself to enjoy when the weather turns cool again.

The recipe below is for 1 pound of cherries, but you can make half or double it.

1 lb fresh cherries with pits
1 C granulated sugar
1 C brandy
1 C vodka

1.  Wash, dry and cut open the cherries to expose the pit, but do not pit them.  Place the cut cherries in a wide-mouthed 1-1/2 or 2 quart glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

2.  Add the sugar.  Cover the jar and shake gently to coat the cherries with the sugar.  Allow the cherries to macerate in the sugar for 4-5 hours.

3.  Add the brandy and the vodka, and stir gently until most of the sugar has dissolved.

4.  Seal and store in a cool, dry place for 2-3 months, shaking occasionally, once every week or two.

5.  In 2-3 months, strain out the fruit.  Then filter through a coffee filter.  Bottle and allow the cherry brandy to age in the bottle on a cool, dry shelf for another 2-3 months before drinking.

I made two, single-variety batches, one with Queen Annes and the other with Bings, but there's no reason you can't mix different varieties of cherries in a single batch.

You might consider adding a small piece of vanilla bean or cinnamon to the mix, but tread lightly, as these flavors can be overpowering.

Today's bounty included:

From C&D Cherries:  Cherries!

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Patty pan squash, kale, shiraz beets, chantenay carrots, red spring onions, and cipolloni spring onions;

From Jaime Farms:  Broccoli, celery, basil, and chives;

From JR Organics:  Red romaine lettuce, dasher cucumber, and swiss chard;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  Nectarines and apricots.



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