An Ode to Sour Cherries

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Oh sour cherries, your time is so short

I’m not usually a sucker for “limited time only” promotions, but when it comes to fruit, I get a little crazy.

The sour cherry season is here and gone; I picked up my first quart in late June and their run ended in mid to late July. Hoping to make the most of their limited season, I attempted to use them in a wide variety of applications.

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Obviously, I had to make a pie.

Pie is the perhaps the most straightforward application for good fruit, aside from just eating it, but I wanted to take it a little further. I made my first foray into jam-making this year, and let me say that it is perhaps the most zen cooking experience that exists. Also, it’s really, really easy. Fruit+sugar+lemon juice=jam. Sour cherries make a particularly nice jam, so aside from putting it on toast, I put it into a gâteau basque.

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Gâteau Basque, before and after

This was certainly delicious, but the next week I brought home another two baskets of sour cherries, and was a little unsure as to what I could possibly do with them. The answer: pickles and booze.

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I stumbled across a recipe for pickled sour cherries in early July, and thought, what the hell, why not? I prepared some cherries and put them in a jar with a couple bay leaves and exactly 20 peppercorns. I poured a warm brine of white vinegar and sugar over the top, let it cool, and threw it in the fridge. I tried one a few days letter, and it was terrible. Harsh, acrid – why did I do this to these poor cherries? It was only last week when I decided to try another that I realized how incredible these are. Given the time to mellow out, these are insanely delicious – tart, sweet, and briny all at once.

As for the booze:

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Cherry hooch

I put cherries in a big container (it’s hard to tell, but the above bottle holds 64 oz.), poured in some cheap vodka, and let it sit for a month. I then added sugar, stirred it, and am waiting until the next month is up, when I will strain the cherries and let the liquor mellow for about 6 months, depending on how patient and/or desperate I am.

The last remnants of les griottes are jars of the frozen fruit at the farmers market. Good? Probably. But not the same. I look forward to next June and the little baskets of red jewels that await.

Cherry pie recipe adapted from smitten kitchen. Sour cherry jam and Gâteau Basque recipes courtesy of David Lebovitz. Pickled cherries and sour cherry jam courtesy of Chez Loulou.

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