Putting Up Cherries for the Winter
Cherry season is nearly at an end. But just before the cherries completely disappear from the markets, I like to put some up so that we can enjoy a bit of the summer sunshine embodied in those sweet fleshy red orbs come winter.
My favourite way to preserve cherries is to either candy them or make a cherry compote. Candied cherries have a higher sugar content and have a more concentrated, candied flavour, whereas cherry compote uses less sugar and has more of a fresh fruit flavour. Both are delicious, both are super easy to make (see my post on Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream for candied cherries), and both freeze incredibly well. If you love cherries, I recommend checking this recipe out and putting up some cherries—it’s such a treat to have in the middle of a cold winter.
Since everyone who tastes my cherry compote wants the recipe, I thought I’d post it. If you love cherries and still have some available where you live, do try making this—you’ll be glad you did. If you’ve already missed the fresh cherries for this season, you can make this compote any time of the year using frozen whole cherries from the supermarket.
Easy-Peasy Cherry Compote
Making cherry compote couldn’t be easier. All you need is a couple of pounds of fresh cherries of your choice, a bit of sugar, a cherry pitter (if you don’t have a cherry pitter you can use a chopstick to remove the pits), some pure almond extract, a large pot and some time.
Buy fresh cherries
Bing, Rainier, Lapin or Skeena cherries (or any combination thereof) all make a delicious cherry compote.
Remove the Stems and Pit your cherries
If you cook often with cherries, I highly recommend that you invest in a cherry pitter. A cherry pitter is an inexpensive kitchen tool and they are fun and very easy to use—they make pitting cherries a breeze.
Cook down the Cherries
Put your pitted cherries, sugar and water into a large pot (make sure you use a large pot to avoid overflow) and simmer with the lid on, stirring often. Don’t leave the kitchen or you’ll have a sticky mess on your hands from overflowing juice (the cherry juice bubbles up to amazing heights and it will foam over if you don’t stir every couple of minutes). I well know—it’s happened to me more than once.
Add Extra Flavour
Remove from heat and add extra flavourings. Almond and cherry flavours pair beautifully together. Pure almond extract really makes the flavour in this compote really pop. I also add a bit of Kirsch to mine, which, in my opinion, elevates the flavour, adding a certain je ne sais quois.
Cool and Serve or preserve
Cherry compote is delicious and versatile. Eat it for breakfast, as a snack or for dessert. Spoon it onto yogurt, serve it with whipped cream, or simply pour a bit of heavy cream into it (which makes it taste somewhat like cherry vanilla ice cream). It also makes an awesome Cherry Mess. It’s divine.
If you want to have a taste of summer in winter, make extra compote to freeze. That’s the hard part, as you’ll just want to eat it all up right away.
Anyway you serve it up, cherry compote is delicious.
Cherry Compote Recipe:
(Adapted from David Lebovitz)
- 2 pounds (1 kg) fresh cherries, stems removed, pitted (You can also use pitted frozen cherries if fresh are not available).
- 1/4 cup dried Montmorency or sour cherries (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 3 teaspoons Kirsch (optional, but highly recommended)
- Put cherries, sugar and water into a large pot. You may play with the proportions of water and sugar depending on the variety of cherries you use and their level of sweetness and how juicy your cherries are. You may want to add more sugar if your cherries are on the tart side or a little more water if they are less fleshy and plump.
- Cover and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, every couple of minutes or so.
- If using dried cherries, add them after 10 minutes. (Although these are optional, I find that they do add another layer of complexity if you happen to have them on hand.)
- Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, making sure the cherries are completely cooked through.
- Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract and Kirsch.
- Cool before serving.
Fresh compote keeps for about 5 days in the refrigerator and freezes remarkably well in freezer bags for up to a year.
All images by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2014 madlyinlovewithlife