I was going to leave this post until I had the final picture but I think that the cherries will be over by then and the post wouldn’t be of use until next year so here goes:
This recipe is taken from one of my favourite cookbooks, ‘The Complete Book of Preserving’, Marye Cameron-Smith; it’s old, battered and falling to bits but the recipes are good.
It says choose fresh firm fruit so I guess slightly under-ripe sour cherries would be good. I use ripe ones but they do produce a lot of juice, which doesn’t help the candying process.
Rinse and dry cherries and then stone. I started off last year with one of the hand-held stoners and very quickly decided it was worth investing in the model shown in the photograph. This is a very messy business, lots of cherry juice everywhere and don’t be fooled by it’s clear or slightly pink colour, cherry juice stains dark brown. I’d been using a towel to dry my hands and later wondered why it was stained all over, then it finally dawned when there were the same stains on the cream covered throws I use on the settee – I’d sat there to stone some when watching the news.
So in the picture below are the essentials, a mass of freshly picked cherries, on the floor a bucket for any waste, on the table a heatproof bowl for the stoned cherries and a nifty cherry stoner. The cherries are loaded into the hopper and they fall (eventually) into a depression below the plunger. Depressing the plunger stamps the cherry stone out through the cherry and then the cherry is lifted slightly and falls onto the discharge chute where you have to catch it. On the table too is the essential cloth to mop up all the cherry juice and to dry my hands on.
Drain the fruit into a heatproof bowl and reserve the cooking liquid.
To make the syrup, for every 450 grams of fruit make a syrup using 175g sugar and 300 ml of the cooking liquid. If you run out of cooking liquid, use water. Dissolve the sugar in the liquid over a gentle heat, then bring to the boil and boil until you have a thin syrup. I have no idea what they really mean here so I boiled it for about 5 mins.
Candying Process – the book notes at this time that this is a long process.
- Pour the hot syrup over the fruit ensuring that the fruit is covered. If there isn’t enough syrup, make up another batch until the fruit is covered. This hasn’t been a problem as the cherries produced a lot of juice.
- The next day, drain the syrup into a pan and add 50g of sugar, bring to the boil and pour back over the cherries.
- Repeat for two more days remembering to add 50g of sugar each day
- On the 5th day, drain the syrup and add 75g of sugar, then add the fruit and boil for 3 minutes. Return the fruit and syrup to the heatproof bowl and leave for 48 hours
- Repeat step 4 but this time let the fruit soak for 4 days. At the end of the 4 days the syrup should have the consistency of honey (my guess is that they mean runny honey not the set variety). If it isn’t very thick, then repeat step 4.
After that it needs to be dried, so remove from syrup with slotted spoon and dry somewhere no higher than 50°C. It is ready when it is no longer sticky although I left my last lot of cherries a bit sticky.
I’ll try and remember to update this as I go along with this year’s batches.
Edit. Last year as I said the syrup didn't get very thick at all and thinking about it this year I only added 50 g sugar where stated even though I'd made up more than one batch of syrup so this year I'm adding the said amounts of sugar per lot of 450 g fruit I used e.g. Where I had 3 x 450 g fruit I'm adding 3 x 50 g sugar for the first 3 days, adding 3 x 75 g sugar on day 5 etc.
Other recipes I’m going to try this year.
One of the blogs I drop in on is David Lebovitz and by chance one of his latest blogs was on sour cherries. I’m not keen on the idea of pickling them but here’s the link to his version of candied cherries which is much simpler but I’m not sure if they are really glacéd – I’m going to try a batch though – and a recipe for cherry jam which again looks nice and simple and is one that is for any amount of cherries.
Also from that entry is a link to another blog, Chez LouLou, where there are a few more recipes and I’m looking to do the Sour Cherry Liqueur, the recipe for which is given in the comments.
And the nice things about the blogs is that I’ve learnt that the sour cherries are called griottes.