When I bought my house a year ago, I scored a sour cherry tree in the front yard. It has never been pruned, is really too tall to harvest effectively, and leans over the roof of the house a fair amount. The birds love it, and the squirrels love it more. The aphids love it so much that I purchase lady bugs once a year to take care of the problem (it works great). Last year the birds and squirrels beat me to the ripe fruit. Not this year. Oh, no.
I harvested a pound of fruit off the tree this afternoon, which isn’t bad considering I’m not even 5′ tall and am terrified of heights. The ladder helped, but with the awkward hang over the roof and sheer height of the never-before-pruned tree, a pound was what I could manage. But what does one do with a pound of fruit? There really wasn’t enough for a batch of jam or sour cherry pie filling. But, it was the perfect quantity with which to make some tasty infused spirits.
For 2 quarts of spirits
- 1 pound of sour cherries, cleaned and pitted
- 4 tablespoons of sugar (or more to taste)
- 1 bottle (750 ml) spirits. I used bourbon but vodka or brandy would also work great!
- A container with a lid large enough to hold it all
Pitting the cherries is optional, but at the very least they must all be pricked to allow the juice to infuse into the liquor. I like to pit the cherries myself–in a few months I can reuse the fruit to make ice cream or to include with other fruit in desserts, a BBQ sauce, or some other topping over a cooked meat or fish. Doing the work of pitting now saves me serious hassle later.
I used two quart-sized mason jars as my infusing containers, but you can use whatever you’d like. In each of the jars I placed half of the fruit and 2 tablespoons of sugar total, sprinkling it over layers of fruit in teaspoon increments. I then took a bottle of bourbon and poured half of the bottle in each of the jars. Giving each of the jars a good shake, I then placed them in a dark cabinet.
Over the next two months I’ll shake those jars frequently. For the first week I’ll shake them once a day to make sure the sugar is dissolved. After that, I’ll shake the jars once a week, or as often as I remember. In a month or two, the resulting goodness will be a thing to behold!
The uses for the infused bourbon are many:
- A tasty addition to cocktails
- Drinking it straight in a cordial glass
- A liquid addition to batters for cakes, cupcakes, scones, cookies, and more as a flavoring.
- An ingredient in sauces for meats such as BBQ sauce, steak sauce, and more
- Addition to stews and other thick soups as a flavoring
- An ingredient in casseroles or hearty meat dishes
- A wonderful holiday or hostess gift when poured into a decorative bottle
- An item with which to barter with friends and neighbors
The fruit will have done most of its job infusing the liquor, but it can also be used as an ingredient in ice cream, alcoholic smoothies, various batters, or an ingredient in sweet sauces. But if I know myself (and I do), I’ll mostly be using both the infused alcohol and the fruit as an ingredient in one of my favorite libations, The Manhattan.