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Turn fresh sweet pitted cherries into quick and simple glace cherries, the best and the easiest homemade candied fruit. There are only two downsides to them: one, pitting cherries is a hassle and two, they disappear too quickly.
One of the best things I have ever eaten in my whole life was boozy candied cherries dipped in whipped cream. It happened eons ago, at a potluck picnic which featured mostly beer (student times) and vapid supermarket nibbles. One girl arrived straight from visiting her grandma who had furnished her with a huge jar of homemade glace cherries soaked in vodka and a tub of whipped cream. I wished the grandmother was mine; we all did. It was absolutely the loveliest way to get drunk ever.
I never had anything like that again and, as taste changes, I have gone right off booze flavoured sweets – or sweet booze, for that matter. So I made these sans liquor but give it a go if my story has inspired you.
Cherries, of course, are a right pain: I wonder why the western world of pre-cooked beetroot and seedless grapes has not come up yet with ready-stoned cherries. You need to cover the kitchen with sheets of polythene like you were about to hacksaw a dead body, wear overalls and procure one of those tools for pitting cherries that are completely useless, so you end up using a large safety pin instead.
But once you’re splattered the place all red, cherries are a feast in cakes and jams and preserves. My grandmother (the post is clearly turning into a granny contest) used to make this wonderful confiture of Morello cherries which might have been something like what I was trying to achieve here: whole intact preserved fruit packed tightly in jars with only traces of syrup amongst them; so when you spooned the preserve onto toast or bun, glistening cherries were sitting proudly atop the bread instead of the ordinary mushy jam.
Based on David Lebovitz’s recipe, these are better than full-on glace cherries, in a way, as they are not quite as plastic looking and tasting. On the other hand they are impossibly sticky even if you let them dry and dry, and dry some more on parchment sheets. The best use of these might be atop a pile of whipped cream sundae, thus referencing my memorable picnic, or on iced buns; or mixed with dried fruit for a Christmas cake.
But they have a tendency to disappear surreptitiously before you even start to think about ‘doing something’ with them.
glace cherriesServings: one small jarTime: 40 minutes plus cooling
- 500g (over 1 pound) fresh cherries, pitted
- 350ml (1½ cups) water
- 200g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
1. Place the cherries in a large saucepan with the water, sugar and lemon juice.
2. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat so the cherries are cooking at a steady rolling boil. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure the cherries are cooking evenly and not sticking.
3. Once the syrup is mostly reduced and as thick in texture as maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat and cool the cherries to room temperature.
4. After the cherries are cool, lift them from the syrup and place on a tray lined with parchment to set for a couple of hours. Refrigerate them in a tub after that for up to one week, or freeze them in zip-lock freezer bags for up to one year.