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Posts Tagged ‘lemons’

As luck would have it, I found that I still had a little over 5 lbs. of sweet cherries in the fridge this weekend. This, after having eaten tons of what I’d originally bought, and a friend stopping by with another sack of them to toss into champagne flutes (quite a festive ‘welcome home’ party, but that’s another story).

Last summer, I’d come across different recipes for ‘drunken cherries’; most of them involved soaking them for various periods of time in Everclear or brandy. I experimented with several kinds of alcohol and found that Jack Daniels was by far the most complimentary. I ended up putting up 7 or 8 pints of these lovely jewels, and despite the rather vast quantity, they didn’t last very long. Although perfect straight from the jar, they’re also a lovely garnish for a Manhattan or Side Car, plunked into the bottom of a chilled cocktail glass. Or, tossed with a little cornstarch slurry, make for a decadent pie or cobbler. And the syrup from the jar is heavenly, stirred into some iced tea or lemonade. So many possibilities!

Freshly pitted Bing cherries

(If you’ve ever attempted to pit cherries, it’s a daunting task – unless you have one of these little babies. I can’t live without my OXO cherry pitter! It makes fast work of removing fruit from the stone. Just the same, I recommend wearing a good apron and (preferably) a dark shirt. Juice gets to flying fast when you fall into a rhythm.)

Bing Cherries & Jack Daniels – yields about 4 pints (with a little left over, if you’re lucky, to eat straight from the pot)

5 lbs. sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Jack Daniels whiskey
juice of 3 lemons (about 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice)

After pitting the cherries, place them in a large, wide non-reactive pot. Stir in a cup of the sugar and the whiskey and allow to sit at room temperature for a few hours, giving them a little what-for with a wooden spoon every once in a while. Get a water bath canner ready and sterilize your jars.

Stir in the other cup of sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil over a medium heat and continue to boil at a simmer for about 20 minutes. You want to make sure the fruit keeps its shape; you’re not making jam.

Fill jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Process in water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a tea towel, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check for seal after about an hour and refrigerate any jars that haven’t properly sealed.

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OK, so I’ve never made jelly before. Jams, YES. Lots and lots of jams. But never jelly. Got to thinking about the two huge lilac hedges in the front lawn that are blooming riotously, and thought to myself, “Lilac + jelly = something delicious.” Never mind that I never tasted lilac jelly in my life, nor was I even sure it was an edible flower (it is). What a great idea it was! It tastes just the way lilac smells, only sweeter. It is, after all, jelly.

But wait! There’s more!

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To make the infusion:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • about 20 leaves fresh sage, roughly chopped

Cook sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and add the sage leaves, stirring it into the sugar water. Cook a few minutes longer and turn off the heat. Allow the leaves to steep until the syrup cools a bit. Strain out sage leaves and decant into a container to place in the refrigerator. Add a shot of vodka to help preserve the syrup.

OK, now what to do with it? Here’s what! My ‘take’ on a lovely elixir — ‘Belladonna’ — once served at The Columbus Inn in Wilmington, Delaware…

Combine all ingredients (except seltzer) into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Pour in highball glass filled with ice; garnish with lemon twist.

She’s deadly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Makes one cocktail.

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