on Jul 04, 2011 in Featured
by Rivky Eisenberg
for more great info and recipe ideas visit her @ www.yumkosher.com
A couple of years ago, my daughter had the good fortune of marrying a young man from Antwerp, Belgium. They live near us in Lakewood, so I try, at least, to make him some of the delicacies that he is accustomed to back home. When my daughter visited Antwerp while she was engaged, all I would hear about when she got back, was the delicious alcohol-preserved cherries that her future Mother-in-Law made. Each Spring, Rita preserves jars and jars of sour cherries in alcohol and spoons it over compote, pound cake, or ice cream to pump up the flavor of any dessert a few notches . In essence, she makes a very delicious cherry liquor, which is months in the making.
It sounded easy and intriguing (albeit not instant), and my dear Machatenista, Rita, promised that before she returned back home after the June wedding, she would make a batch of the cherries with me. I bought a large glass jar with a clamp and rubber seal. Although it is hard to find sour cherries in my area, a neighbor of mine found a place to pick them right off the tree, in Battleview Orchards in Freehold, NJ. The sour cherry season lasts from the end of June till the end of July, and I picked a nice amount of sour cherries, picture perfect, off the trees.
We washed and dried the cherries, removing the stems and leaving the pits intact. Then Rita proceeded to put a layer of cherries in the bottom of the jar, and poured sugar until it filled in all the spaces and covered the cherries a bit. Layer after layer, she repeated this process until the jar was filled with cherries and sugar. We sealed the jar and she elegantly wrapped a kitchen towel around it and told me to put it in a cool dark place. I left it on the counter and it became my baby. I checked on the cherries’ progress multiple times a day and turned the jar upside down occasionally. Every few days I opened the jar to release the gases and, naturally, anyone who came over had to see my cherries. At the same time, my mother was in the Catskills and by my verbal instruction proceeded to make her own jar. (Incidentally, my parents love these cherries, and my mother says that a little bit before bedtime results in a good nights’ sleep!)
After 2 or 3 weeks, the sugar had melted into a syrup and the cherries had shrunk so that the cherries with the sugar syrup only filled 1/2 or 2/3 of the jar. Rita had long since gone home, but we called and emailed and she determined that it was time to add the alcohol. She uses 95% alcohol which is available in liquor stores and she told me to “just pour”. I poured a couple of “inches” of alcohol into the jar and added some cherry liquor (you can use Kirsch or Cherry Herring) to that.
Then I resealed the jars, covered with the towel and let it sit, this time for a few months. I still opened the jars periodically to taste and release the gases. By October or November, the cherries were delicious and ready. A couple of months later, when Rita was back, she tasted my cherries and determined that they could use a bit more alcohol. So we added more at this point and enjoyed them until the next years batch was ready! This is the 3rd season that I have been making these, so I almost don’t remember a time that there wasn’t a jar of these cherries on my counter!
I have tried to make this with regular cherries, and I must say, that the sour cherries, although smaller in size were much softer and tastier without being too strong. It has become a specialty in our home and we serve these preserved cherries for dessert all year round by spooning it over cake, ice cream, whipped cream, cheesecake, mousse, soft puddings or any desserts that need a lift!
About the Author: Rivky Eisenberg is a self-taught Pastry Chef who is famous for her Cheesecakes and Dairy Pastries . As the sole owner and baker of the very successful mail order Cheesecake business The Viennese Table, Rivky is also an accomplished food writer and overall Grand Dame of the Kitchen. You can see Rivky’s recipes and kitchen tips and foodie reviews on kosherstreet.com and her new blog Yumkosher.com
To order Rivky’s Cheesecakes please call 732-364-8969