Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pickled Cherries


I spent half an hour at the end of last week sitting outside pitting a couple of pounds of these sweet cherries from Kimball Fruit Farm. This activity taught me that somebody needs to invent a functioning cherry pitter; I made it through about half of them before I switched to a paring knife.


The cherry halves went into a pie of sorts, but the whole cherries (well, except for the pits) took a bath in brine. The recipe comes from the June issue of Bon Appetit, the one with Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover. Did the celebrity on the cover of a food magazine bother anyone else? It's weird, I'm not a big fan of the new design of the magazine; to me it feels like they're trying way too hard to be hip what with all the letterpress styling and what not. On the other hand, I've been tempted by more of the recipes in the last couple of issues than over the winter... but that might have more to do with me finishing school and having time to read magazines again than Adam Rapoport's takeover.

Pickled Cherries

ANYWAY, enough ruminating on the state of food publishing. Pickled cherries! Deliciously odd, peppery sweet, perfect with the last jar of duck rillettes we had in the house. If you've got cherries around, why not pickle them?

Pickled Cherries
Adapted only slightly from Bon Appetit

BA suggests pairing these with pate or as part of a salumi platter, which was great, but I think I'm going to serve some with seared duck breast later this week, too. I'd love to know how you would use them.

12 ounces (3/4 pound) sweet cherries
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 sprig rosemary

First, wash and pit the cherries. If you use a pitter you'll end up with whole cherry pickles, but halves would work fine, too, if you'd rather use a paring knife.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, pepper, coriander and red pepper flakes in a medium sauce pan (use stainless steel or another non reactive pan, aluminum will react with the vinegar). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for five minutes. Strain the brine through a sieve into a bowl to remove the solids, then return the liquid to the pan and add the cherries and rosemary. Simmer for a few minutes until the cherries are just barely tender.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries and rosemary sprig to a one pint mason jar. Carefully pour enough of the brine into the jar to cover the cherries. Let the jar cool at room temperature for a couple of hours, then cover and chill. Makes about 2 cups.


  1. I definitely saw the Gwyneth Paltrow cover and went "really? really?" But then I enjoyed a strawberry shortcake recipe from it, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much about it. I'm excited to see what Rappaport has coming up next.

  2. i saw these and totally wanted to try them as well :)

  3. Yes I was totally bothered by that as well, but I'm generally annoyed when people think that just because they are a celebrity that they are qualified to do other things.

    Those cherries though look fantastic.

  4. I could be wrong about this, but wouldn't leaving the pits in impart more flavor? Also sounds like they would be amazing in a cocktail of some sort.

  5. These are sweet cherries? They are so red!

  6. I know, right? I thought they were sour but I asked the farmer and tasted before I bought them. Sweet indeed. He said they're called "helen finger" but I googled a little bit and couldn't find them so I may be misremembering.

  7. I find that sometimes farmers can be a little off on their names as well. A couple of years ago I came across one of the two best tasting pears I've ever had. The vendor told me they were 'martini' pears. So I looked and looked to buy a tree for my yard and never could find it or anyone who knew anything about it. Finally I came across a 'Butirra Precoce Morettini' pear tree. I'm convinced it's what I'm looking for.

    The only 'Helen' I can find in cherry trees is the 'Royal Helen.' But I wouldn't think you would see that one at a farmer's market where you are. I tried the 'Finger' part of the name too, but googling that with "cherry" led me down a dark path!

  8. Hi
    I am an Englishwoman living in SW France.
    I pickled some cherries for the first time this year. I have a Burlat grafted onto a wild tree. I didn't bother to pit them and it didn't cause any problems. We ate the first ones after about a month and they were very good, everyone loved them. I had a feeling that your cherries might be from a German variety of tree and I have found this "Hedelfinger Riesenkirsche". It could sound like Helen finger.
    My recipe is as follows:
    600mls cider vinegar, 750gms sugar, 1 kilo ripe cherries, 1 tsp allspice berries, 6 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf per jar, 2 cloves per jar, 2 juniper berries crushed.
    Pickled cherries are so easy to make, I shall do more next year. I'll try your recipe too, it sounds very good.

  9. Hedelfinger! I'm sure that's it. Thanks, Gill.