A Summer Full of Cherries
Cherries were one of my father’s favorite fruits and as a child, I remember our fridge was always well stocked in the spring and early summer. One of my favorite cherry season recipes is cherry syrup. It’s super easy to make and preserves the fresh flavors of this summer fruit.
Fresh cherries should be refrigerated as soon as you arrive home since they lose more flavor in one hour at room temperature than 24 hours in the fridge. As with any fresh fruit or veggie, the sooner you process them, the better they taste.
Not Just for Ice Cream
While cherry syrup makes a great topping on ice cream or pancakes, try it in summer cocktails for Bing Cherry Gin Slings, Cherry Manhattans, Cherry Mint Juleps or Cherry Bounce Sours. Add the syrup to sparkling water (our Soda Stream worked great) for a fantastic cherry soda. I’m preparing this batch to use for my own Cherrywood Smoked Bacon.
A Note on Cherries (without the sugar)
Cherries are a potent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These cellular bodyguards slow down aging and ward off chronic illnesses—including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and obesity. Tart cherries in particular are one of the few food sources of melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycles. Regularly incorporating cherries or 100% cherry juice into your meal or snack routine may help lessen your joint pain. In one study, gout patients who consumed cherries for just two days (both the fresh fruit, as well as cherry extract and juice) showed a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not eat cherries.
Cherries can also make that post-HIIT workout soreness less intense. They protect against the cellular wear and tear from exercise, and help support muscle recovery. For this reason tart cherry juice is popular with professional and competitive athletes, but can help anyone who’s regularly active.
Bing Cherry Syrup
Bing Cherry Syrup can be used in cocktails, pancakes or waffles, cheese blintzes, cherry sauce for ice cream and as a flavoring ingredient in many recipes. If you have access to a Soda Stream soda maker this makes a fantastic fresh cherry soda.
- 1 lb Bing cherries, pitted
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 whole large lemon peel, zested with pith removed
- 1 whole lemon, juiced
- 1 cup water
- ¼ tsp almond extract (optional)
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/8 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp kirsch (optional)
Sort and wash the cherries and remove cherry stems.
Using a cherry pitter, remove all the pits from the cherries.
In a medium sized pot over medium-high heat add 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, zest of 1 lemon with juice, 1 cup water, almond extract, ground cinnamon, pinch of salt and the pitted cherries. Bring up to a boil and reduce the temperature until the cherries are just boiling.
Cook the cherries in the liquid for 10 minutes. Be sure to watch the cherries while cooking and stir or remove from heat if the liquid starts to overflow. Return to heat and continue to cook for the whole 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the cherries from the heat, strain and add the kirsch. Stir to incorporate and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Once the cherries have cooled, add the mixture to a blender. Cover and puree the mixture until well blended. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer back into the original pot and place over medium-heat. Reduce the syrup to the desired consistency stirring often for 5-8 minutes. (If upon blending the cherries the sauce is already thick enough for you, stop here, if not proceed)
Store in a clean dish or bottle with a tight fitting lid and keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Use as needed. Makes approximately 2 cups of syrup.