Wine Cherries!

Eugenia Bone is a genius. Her book, “The Kitchen Ecosystem” has inspired me to look at food differently, particularly when it comes to waste. But that’s another issue. Right now it is cherry season. I’ve already plundered my friend’s sour cherry tree (by her invitation, of course) and made a luscious sour cherry pie and some jam. Now it is on to one of my favorites: wine cherries. Wine cherries should be huge, succulent and sweet. Bing!

I used Eugenia’s recipe from her book “Well-Preserved,” making one small change. I added a dozen juniper berries as well as the cloves. It’s a simple recipe that gives you a versatile ingredient for sweet and savory dishes as well as the perfect cocktail garnish. Maraschino cherries, even if they aren’t the scary, non-food kind, have nothing on these babies when it comes to a Manhattan. Trust me on that one.

Here is the recipe. I made 10 half-pints and had some syrup leftover, which I cooked down until very thick and truly syrupy. It gave me a half-pint of fantasticly flavorful syrup, some of which I will be using shortly on a pork tenderloin with braised Swiss Chard stems – again, thanking Ms. Bone for inspiring me to do something with those colorful stems besides compost them.

WINE CHERRIES, adapted from Eugenia Bone’s “Well-Preserved”

2 bottles of red wine (think Trader Joe’s or BotaBox cheap here)
2 cups sugar
2 cups orange juice
24 whole cloves and 12 juniper berries
Rind, pith removed, from one large orange or 3 tangerines/clementines
4 pounds Bing cherries, pitted

Have 10-12 half-pint jars sterilized and hot. Lids and rings too. You know the drill.

Place all ingredients except the cherries in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to boil, stirring to prevent burning. Add cherries and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon and set aside, covered, to keep them warm.

Return the liquid to a boil and reduce by half  – about 15 minutes longer.

Fill hot jars with cherries. Don’t pack tightly, so the cherries keep their shape. Cover, leaving 1″ headspace, with hot syrup. Seal and process in hot water bath for 20 minutes.

As I said, I had some syrup leftover. I removed the orange zest, cloves and juniper berries, and reduced the syrup until it was very thick and syrupy, probably another ten minutes. That stuff is gonna be wicked on this tenderloin. I also had about a dozen cherries left over, which will find their way on some of that Oatscream I made last week.