Rainier cherries in syrup

Rainier cherries

Rainier cherries

It’s been a bumper year for the Rainier cherries. I picked 6Kg from the tree in the back garden in about half an hour (strictly speaking it’s my neighbour’s tree and I just picked the branches overhanging my garden).

So I’m left with a conundrum: What the hell am I going to do with them all? I pickled some – but that only used 400g. There’s no room in the freezer because it’s full of meats and stock.

No choice but to preserve them. I’d got a load of jam and pickle jars I’d saved up since last year, so no issue there.

There are loads of recipes online for canning / preserving fruit. I found this one on Simple Bites

I used triple the amount of cherries but you can adjust this accordingly:

  • 1Kg cherries
  • 1L water
  • ~300g sugar (adjust depending on how sweet your cherries are. These are really sweet)
  • Vanilla pods (I cut them up into quarters, one per jar)
  • Sanitised jars with “poppy” seal type lids – I put mine through the dishwasher, they were old gherkin jars from work.
  • Cherry stoner / pitter

While the jars are in the dishwasher, wash, de-stem and stone your cherries. You could do it manually with a knife, if you’re a masochist. It takes quite a while even with a stoner, and I couldn’t face doing any more after about 2Kg. So I kept some whole to fill some other jars.

Put the stoned cherries in water with a splash of lemon juice to stop them browning.

Dry your clean jars off in a low oven and keep them warm.

Then make the syrup – put the sugar and water in a pan and bring to a simmer, so that the sugar’s totally dissolved. Keep it on a low heat for now.

Put a huge pan of water on to boil. I can only get 3 jars at a time in mine. If you have a trivet to put in the bottom of the pan to keep the jars from the direct heat, then so much the better.

Put a piece of vanilla pod into each warm jar, and then cram as many cherries as you can in. Leave a little room at the top so you can cover them totally with the syrup.

Cover the cherries with the hot syrup, and give them a bang on the work surface to loosen any trapped air. Make sure the thread on the jars is super clean (use a clean towel with a little boiling water on if there’s bits of cherry stuck to them), and then hand-tighten the lids.

Transfer them to the huge pan of water you’ve got simmering. The water should cover the jars completely. Simmer them for about 18 minutes. You should see bubbles coming from the jars during this time.

After 18 or so minutes, lift them out of the hot water and put the next batch in. A jar-lifter is really very handy here.

Let the jars cool down, and listen out for the “pops” from the lids as they seal. Any which don’t pop inwards you can keep in the fridge, the others are shelf safe.

Here are my jars full of cherries. They seem to have lost some colour which is a shame, but I was pleased when they all went pop!

Rainier cherries in syrup

Rainier cherries in syrup

Persian pickled cherries with tarragon

Persian pickled cherries with tarragon

Persian pickled cherries with tarragon

I need to somehow process the 6kg Rainer cherries I picked yesterday, and this recipe sounded so weird that I had to try it.

The recipe is from Diana Henry’s book “Salt sugar smoke”.

You need:

  • 500ml white wine vinegar
  • 3tbsp salt
  • 12 bruised black peppercorns
  • 400g cherries (these are rainier cherries)
  • 5 sprigs of tarragon
  • sterilised jar with a vinegar proof lid

All you need to do is

  • bring the vinegar, salt and pepper to a boil, then leave it to cool
  • put the cherries and tarragon into the jar, cover with the vinegar solution, try to get the air bubbles out by banging the jar, then put the lid on
  • wait 2 weeks before eating.

I have no idea how these will taste. There’s no sugar in the recipe, and although the cherries are really sweet I get the feeling that it might turn my face inside out!

I’ll report back in due course. I need to find something to do with the other 5.5Kg cherries now!