Although every year I wait for Cherry season to come, this year was especially anticipatory because while in Italy this past year I was taught a simple way to preserve them for winter use. –Okay, so I have the soul of 1920’s housewife who spends her spring and summer, “putting the crop up.” Is that so wrong?
Cherries are delightfully sweet and sour, their skin is impressively shiny and their color vibrantly ruby, and when you bite into them, their juice makes your lips turn red like a hot Parisian hooker, and as a boy I found it particularly wonderful to spit the pits out at my sisters who would scream at me and run off. However, since I am older and more civilized and have attained a minute amount of couth and sophistication, I rather eat cherries by the bowl full sitting on my back porch and save the pits for the trash can.
While in Italy, after a wonderful dinner of tortellini stuffed with ricotta and spinach tossed with butter and sage, and a roasted Rabbit, Giovanni’s grandmother Pina, brought to the table jars of her preserve cherries and scooped them out into shallow dessert glasses. They were succulent, sweet, and still firm, their color richly deep and purple and as I devoured each cherry, I swore I was in Cherry heaven. I ate a jar full that day, and before I left Italy I embarrassingly ate all of Pina’s winter supply without her knowing. I am sorry Pina.
This is how to do it: Grab a bunch of mason jars and caps and clean them. Wash a load of cherries and take their stems off. Put the cherries in a jar to its rim, you can compact them but don’t push down and be careful not to split them open. Place a tablespoon of sugar on top and cover tightly. Do not add any liquid! Place the jars in a pot of boiling water and let them cook for about 30 to 40 minutes until their ruby color turns into a deep purple, do not overcook them. Take them out of the water and cool. A cup of juice will form at the bottom of the jar. There will be cherries on top that will not be in the juice, but fear not, this is how it is supposed to be. Place the jars in the back of your refrigerator and eat at Christmas or the next day. Two pounds of cherries make about two jars.