For our January Recipe of the Month, Bianca from Bianca’s Kitchen has sent us a decadent recipe for preserving cherries (one of our favourites!) from her kitchen.
This time of the year is a busy one for those of us who ‘relish’ in preserving the fresh fruit and vegetables that are currently in abundance in our region. From lovely tomato chutneys and stone fruit jams and pastes to zingy zucchini or cucumber pickles, the options for making condiments are endless.
Bianca says that this preserve is a perfect topping for a cheesecake or pavlova and that the syrup can be used as a glaze for meat (duck or pork) with the cherries served on the side. Enjoy!
2kg fresh pitted cherries
6 cups of port (2 bottles)
3 cups caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange (peel into strips)
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 vanilla beans
white vinegar for washing cherries.
1. Sterilise jars – boil glass jars and lids for 10 minutes on a hard boil. While they are boiling preheat your oven to 110 degrees. Once the jars have boiled for 10 minutes, turn off heat and remove them using tongs (jar cradle) and place them onto a tea towel lined baking tray. Put these into the oven for at least 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the jars should be dry. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down before you start packing them with cherries.
2. While the jars are being sterilised, wash your fresh cherries in white vinegar to remove any yeasts or mould from the fruit surface. Pitt them using a cherry (olive) pitter.
3. Pour the 2 bottles of port into a saucepan, add the orange zest, star anise, cinnamon and vanilla beans. Simmer the port until it is reduced by half (this should take about half an hour). Don’t boil it too quickly, we need time to allow the flavours to infuse into the port.
4. Once the port has reduced by approximately half stir in the sugar until it has dissolved.
5. Strain the mixture through a metal sieve into a jug or bowl and discard the spices and orange peel. The liquid in the jug will be the port syrup we use for preserving the cherries.
6. Pack your clean pitted cherries into your jars leaving round 2 cm head space at the top of the jar. Pour the port syrup over the cherries, leaving around 1 cm at the top of the jar. To each jar add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
7. Clean the rim of the jar using white vinegar (I use paper towel soaked in vinegar), then screw down the lid tightly.
8. We now need to pressure cook the cherries which will also seal the jars very tightly. Place the sealed jars into a large stock pot and cover with water (the water level should be about an inch over the top of the jars). Bring the pot to a boil, then boil the jars for 25 minutes.
9. Using a jar cradle (tongs) remove the jars from the pot and set aside to cool. Let them stand for a day before you start devouring them!