Spiced Cherries

Spiced Cherries

These cherries are so good, I am already wishing I had canned more of them. I was inspired by my cousin, Laurie, who needed spiced cherries for a recipe she wants to make.

I first thought about the spices I wanted to use. I didn’t want to overpower the cherries, but I wanted the spices to complement the flavor of the fruit. In the end I used cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, fenugreek, cloves and some cracked black pepper.

Once I decided which spices I wanted to use, I steeped them in boiling water. Kind of like making tea. Then I strained out the spices and used the spiced water in the syrup for the cherries.  I could just have added spices to the cherries when I canned them, but I didn’t want stuff in the jars I would need to strain out later. I also knew the spices would get more intense over time, if left in the jars. By making a tea and tasting it, I knew what level of spice I would have in the final product.

The spiced cherries can just be eaten, right out of the jar. They can also be drained and added to fruit salads or used to top desserts. You can also use them to bake with. They aren’t overly sweet.

Laurie is using them in some sort of chocolate cherry martini. Now that sounds good!!!

They would make nice gifts, too.

So here is my recipe for spiced cherries.

Spiced Cherries

7 (3-4 inch) cinnamon sticks

2 T. fennel seeds

2 T. fenugreek seeds

1 T. whole cloves

1 T. cracked black pepper

5 c. water

11 lbs. sweet cherries

3¼ c. sugar

Zest of 2 limes

Juice of 2 limes

Place spices in a large pot and turn heat on to medium. Toast spices in pot for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You should be able to smell them. Watch so they don’t burn. Add the water to the spices, bring to a boil, and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Longer cooking is fine. Fill water bath canner with water and heat up water to a simmer.   In the meantime, pit the cherries. You should end up with about 4½-5 quarts of pitted fruit. You can hold pitted cherries in a bowl of water with a little ascorbic acid in it, to prevent browning. Set aside. Remove the spiced water from the heat. Strain out the spices and discard them. Measure the spiced water and add enough fresh water to equal 5 cups. Return water to pot with the cherries (drained if they were in water), sugar, zest and lime juice. Bring mixture to a boil. Fill pint jars with cherries and cooking liquid, leaving ½-inch headspace. Wipe rims and screw on lids until fingertip tight. Place jars in water bath canner. Make sure the water covers the jars by 1-2 inches. Place lid on canner, and start timing when water returns to the boil. Process for 15 minutes. Remove jars from canner and place on a cooling rack or towel, in a draft free area. Once cooled, check the lids to make sure they are sealed. Remove bands and wipe down jars. Label and store. Makes about 9 pints.

Times and procedures all used NCHFP guidelines.

Jars cooling down

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