Cerise a l'aigre-doux
The cherries have been spectacular this year - especially the British ones - and there are still plenty in the shops and markets. They don't make great jam without the help of lots of added pectin so why not raise your game with an unusual but delicious preserve.
These sweet and sour cherries are great to make now and will be ready for Christmas, either as part of your Boxing Day buffet table or as a really out-there gift. Delicious with cold meats and cheeses their sharp but sweet flavour is evocative of hot Summer days by the sea in France.
The recipe is really simple - it is a two day process but doesn't take long to make. You will need:-
Makes 6 x 500ml round jars
1.5 kgs/3lbs cherries
750mls/1.5 pints red wine vinegar
500g/1 lb caster sugar
i piece whole cinnamon
freshly grated nutmeg
Wash and wipe the cherries if necessary.
Cut the stalk around two centimeters/half an inch from the fruit.
Using a cocktail stick pierce the flesh of each cherry 3 to four times.
Put the vinegar, sugar and spices into a pan and stir to dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Increase the heat to boiling point then turn off and allow to cool.
Put cherries into the pan with the vinegar and let them macerate for twenty-four hours.
Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon and heat the vinegar for eight to ten minutes a simmer. Allow to cool again.
Meanwhile wash your jars and put into the oven to heat and dry.
Remove and pack the cherries into the jar.
Remove the spices and pour the cool vinegar into a jug and then fill the jars to cover the cherries. Leave a small space at the top.
Pour in enough brandy to fill the jar and then seal tightly with vinegar proof lids.
Store in a cool place and keep for 2-3 months to mature.
These sweet and sour cherries are the perfect accompaniment to rich pork and game, or strong cheeses.
I used the 500ml round jar which was the perfect size with a wide mouth to make filling the jars really easy.