On New Year's Eve, I was swapping canning stories with my dear co-conspirator Hannah. She makes the most delicious everything. If we're all really lucky, she may be posting some of her creations here in the near future. She mentioned she's made her own cocktail cherries (like marachino cherries, but all grown up and actually tasty), and passed me the recipe. It's really, really fun to make - the perfect project for a cold Saturday morning when you don't want to go outside.
I should probably explain why there are cherries in China in February. Cherries are considered a "spring" food, and so they're appropriate to eat at Chinese New Year. The ones I got came from Chile, where it's now summer.
I did a variation on this recipe. 2.5 kg of cherries makes three batches if you make cherry juice from some of the fruit, and also each a bunch.
The cherry juice called for in the recipe is a great way to use up cherries that may not be quite so aesthetically pleasing. One note on that process is not to blend the fruit too much or it will take forever to drain.
I'm not a huge fan of brandy, and I plan to use my cherries in manhattans and old fashioneds, so I swapped out the brandy called for in the recipe for bourbon.
I also changed the spice profile a bit. I bought a bunch of whole cardamom and star anise in Vietnam, so added that to the mix.
If the idea of pitting cherries makes you not want to try this, I whole-heartedly recommend this cherry pitter made by the good people at oxo. It was comfortable to use, fast, and didn't make a huge mess.
I found a similar recipe for cherries with the same alcohol and sugar ratio, and used their processing guideline - 10 minutes processing in boiling water.