Cherries were once a rare treat but now they have become more affordable when they are in season. Buy a few punnets at a time and make our boozy cherries to eat for dessert with Greek yogurt or serve them as part of a cheese board with a runny piece of Brie de Meaux which is in season at the same time. Our boozy cherries last for 2 weeks if you store them in a sealed container in the fridge.
200g caster sugar
Juice and zest of 2 medium oranges or 1 large orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 star anise
60ml brandy or Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1. Place all the ingredients except the brandy or liqueur in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil for 7-10 minutes until the cherries are cooked but still holding their shape and the syrup is thick (it will thicken further when you leave it to cool so don’t take it too far). Turn the heat down if the liquid threatens to rise up over the top of the pan. It boils over easily so you need to watch it.
2. Add the brandy or liqueur to the cherries and cook for another 2 minutes.
We leave the stones in but you can remove them, especially if you are serving the fruit to someone elderly. Always let someone know if you have left the stones in the cherries!
Use a roomy saucepan – the syrupy liquid bubbles up during cooking and can easily spill over. If it does, carefully clean the sticky syrup from the cooker with a damp cloth as it will be more difficult to remove later.
Use a piece of paper kitchen towel to mop up any white froth that rises to the top. You don’t have to do this – you can just stir it back into the syrup at the end – but it gives you a cleaner clearer syrup.
Place the cherries and syrup in a bowl, cool and cover with a lid or cling film and store them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks – they will soften and shrivel over time and their flavour will deepen as the cherry flavour merges with the syrup. You can also pot them in a preserving jar (warm it in the oven first if you are adding hot cherries) but you still need to keep them in the fridge.