Up at the garden we have two large cherry trees. Over the last six years we have had only small sporadic harvests that never amounted to enough cherries to do anything with but eat the few we picked. This past spring we had our first large cherry harvest. A lot of the problems with fruit by the garden, whether cherries, apples or pears, are late spring frosts killing the budding fruit. We were lucky this past spring.
You can only eat so many cherries before they start to go bad. After eating what we could, we knew the logical use was to make cherry bounce – brandy flavored with cherries. When we lived in Maine we had a sour cherry tree. They were too tart to just eat by the handful, although they were good for pies. Not being big pie people (at least not for that many pies) we looked for an alternate use, we couldn’t just let them sit on the tree or fall on the ground and go bad. That is when we discovered cherry bounce. We made it every year and tried versions using vodka or whiskey as an alternative to brandy. Brandy was our favorite.
The cherries we have at this garden are not sour cherries. So, although they are a different cherry, we decided to give cherry bounce a try and account for the natural sweetness by adding less sugar. The recipe could not be easier. Wash and dry the cherries then prick with a fork a couple of times, fill a sealable container with cherries, add sugar to desired sweetness and fill with brandy, then store in a cool dark place for a few months. Over that time the cherries release their juice to the brandy and take on an alcoholic punch. We don’t do much with the cherries (I know we should) after they are in the brandy but some friends have enjoyed them on ice cream and I think they could be interesting if used with a pork roast. We recently tried some of this year’s cherry bounce and it has a fruitier flavor than I remember having with the sour cherries. We added sugar in increments to test for sweetness.
Cherry bounce is just one of the liquors we make and is a method we use to preserve various varieties of fruit. We make limoncello every year with our lemons if they do not get hit by frost. We have made various plum and stone fruit liquors when we have a good source for those. Over the years we have tried prickly pear liquor. It took on an appealing light purple color but not much flavor; not surprising as I don’t think prickly pears have much flavor. Made for interesting sounding cocktails. I anticipate making limoncello, likely a couple of gallons, in the coming months and I will put that on here. I don’t know if we have other liquors planned, but most of the preserved fruit and vegetables we make are somewhat unplanned until we have more of something than we know what to do with, then it is a mad scramble to find interesting recipes.
Hopefully we will get a robust cherry harvest again soon; but, based on past experience I am afraid that will be an uncommon event. Until then we have a great after dinner and dessert sipping drink for those cold winter days.