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Cherry Preserves

Keeping the pits in the cherries gives the preserves a subtle almond flavor and eliminates an arduous task. Just remember to warn diners about the pits before they savor the preserve (or, if you prefer, pit the cherries). Spoon the preserves over ice cream for a winter dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 lb. dark sweet cherries, such as Bing, stems removed

Directions:

Have ready 5 hot, sterilized half-pint jars and their lids.

In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Add 2 cups water, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cherries, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring gently, for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a rimmed baking sheet or a large platter, spreading them out in an even layer. Cook the syrup until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Return the cherries to the pan and cook for 1 minute to heat through.

Using the slotted spoon, divide the hot cherries evenly among the jars. Ladle the syrup over the cherries, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes 5 half-pint jars.

Variation: To make Cherries Preserved in Wine, substitute 1 cup each water and fruity red wine, such as Zinfandel or Cabernet Franc, for the 2 cups water and 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Adapted from The Art of Preserving, by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne & Rick Field (Weldon Owen, 2010).