Serves: Makes 3 (1-quart) jars of pickled cherries
- 3 pounds fresh dark cherries, such as Bing, Van, Lambert, or Stella
- 12 (4-inch) sprigs fresh savory
- 4 cups white wine vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1½ tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 fresh bay leaves, torn
Procedures:Cherry season is greatly anticipated and yet so fleeting. There are only so many you can eat out of hand, top with a buttery and sweet nut crust for a crisp, or tumble with a little sugar and cornstarch to bake into a flaky pie. To truly savor and preserve the season, pack fresh cherries into hinged-top French canning jars and pickle them for a spiced, tart accompaniment to pâtés, game meats, seared duck breasts, or pork roasts.
- Wash the jars, including the lids and screw bands, in hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly. Alternatively, run the jars through the regular cycle of your dishwasher; wash the lids and screw bands by hand. Sterilize the jars and lids.
- Wash the cherries and pat dry with paper towels. Using kitchen shears, snip the stem ends, leaving ¾ inch intact. Using a skewer or toothpick, prick each cherry in several places. (This allows the pickling liquid to permeate into the cherry.) Fill the jars half full of cherries.
- Nestle 4 sprigs of savory into each jar, spacing them evenly down the sides of the jars. Fill the jars evenly with the rest of the cherries.
- In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, peppercorns, star anise, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Boil the pickling liquid for 1 minute and remove from the heat.
- Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the hot pickling liquid into the prepared jars filled with cherries, covering the fruit and leaving ½ inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean and attach the lids. Steep at room temperature until cool. Store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks to allow the flavors to permeate the cherries.
Storing: Refrigerate, covered, for 2 weeks and up to 6 months.