Rosemary Pickled Cherries
Post by Anna
It’s mid-October, which means I have no business writing about cherries.
But when you uncover a stash of pickled cherries that your forgetful/forward-thinking self put up four months ago during the Great Rainier Glut of 2016, it’s a reminder that good summer fruit knows how to do more than jam and pie. Besides, everyone should just slow your roll on the root vegetables so that we have something interesting to eat in February.
Once you get over the fact that these look like little eyeballs floating in a jar of formaldehyde, this project is incredibly satisfying. It’s just a matter of making a simple brine, throwing in a few peppercorns and springs of rosemary (which, if you live in Seattle, is common as mud), and then forgetting (my speciality). Leaving the pits in actually keeps the cherries from disintegrating; they hold their shape nicely over time.
Pickling is often used to extend the season, promising to ease our fever dreams of strawberries or cucumbers in the winter months. Some pickles, though, take their journey to completion and emerge fully transformed. These are such pickles. The sweet, earthy rice vinegar is a more mellow alternative to the big jug of white stuff, and the savory flavors really set in and balance the sweet. These turned out to be perfect with cheese in a way a plain old cherry never could be, and the leftover brine—tangy, bright liquid ringing with rosemary, pepper, and fruit—would be perfect pan juice for a roast chicken, or drunk with gin as a shrub.
So next June, by all means, eat your cherries. But remember to save a few to bring in fall by.
Recipe for Rosemary Pickled Cherries by Marisa McClellan, Food in Jars. Yield: 3 Pints.
Notes: Edward Lee’s book Smoke and Pickles was the inspiration for the recipe, adapted by Marisa to make these shelf stable. Since rice vinegar has less acid than most other vinegars, don’t mess with her recipe if you’re hoping to can these (and if you want to get creative, just stick it in the fridge where it’ll keep at least one month). Don’t worry if the cherries brown a little in the jars—it’s just oxidization and will be more pronounced with the yellow Rainiers. Bings or other cherries you have on hand work great, too.