Homemade Brandied Cherries

for a happier happy hour

Face facts, people. It’s August. That means a few things. First, it’s going to be hotter than ever for the next few weeks, with everyone setting their sights on September and its (hopefully) cool, autumn relief. Second, it means that summer’s bounty of juicy fruits and fresh vegetables is coming to a close, so get ‘em while you can! It’s always a bit depressing to see all of the colorful selections at the farmer’s market or grocery store dwindle down to mostly root vegetables and some specialty items that cost an arm and a leg. No, I will not be paying $8 for a pint of berries in November, thank you very much. There is, however, a solution to this problem: preserving.

Whether you’re pickling, making jam, or just canning your favorite produce, preserving these items ensures that you’ll be able to enjoy them no matter what the temperature is outside. Doing this at home is not only a fun weekend project, but you can feel better eating preserved foods when you know what went into them. Usually, when done at home, that means less sugar, less salt, and less of all that other hard-to-pronounce bad-for-you stuff. All you need are some sterilized mason jars, your favorite summer produce, and usually less than an hour, before your pantry (and I’m sure your friends’ and families’ pantries) are stocked with homemade canned and jarred goodness.

The idea to make our own brandied cherries actually stemmed from my genius husband. We are suckers for a good old fashioned cocktail, and while Kramer can take or leave your usual store-bought maraschino cherry, it just doesn’t have the same visual appeal without it. I, on the other hand, could (and sometimes do) eat the cherries straight out of the jar. I have no shame. My brothers are the same way. When we were kids, my dad told us that maraschino cherries had formaldehyde in them in an effort to get us to stop trying to sneak them out of the fridge or asking for more in our Shirley Temples when we went out to dinner. It didn’t work. We were completely unfazed by potentially ingesting harmful chemicals (or we didn’t realize what formaldehyde was…one of the two.)


Either way: cherries. I love ‘em. So Kramer suggested that we make our own. Lots of cocktail bars in Brooklyn make beautiful, homemade, brandied cherries, which are obviously more delicious than the ones you can buy at the supermarket and even more pretty, with their naturally dark color instead of a suspiciously bright and clearly artificial red. The flavor is more mild, sweet but not too sweet, with a hint of cinnamon and cloves, because I steeped whole ones in the brandy and sugar before pouring it over the cherries.

The only downside to this process is, yes, you have to jar them up and leave. them. alone! Do not open the lids for at least four weeks, and I mean it! I even opened one up to take a peek after two weeks because I thought, c’mon, two weeks is a long time, I’m sure they’re fine. And honestly, they were good, but the extra time really macerates the cherries and turns them into something special. They’re perfect for baking into your favorite dessert, topping off a bowl of ice cream, or, of course, making almost any cocktail. They are an impressive detail in your entertaining repertoire that everyone will notice, and they also make fantastic holiday gifts, as the cherries will last for up to one year if properly jarred and stored.

However, Kramer and I are already halfway through our first batch, so try your best not to use them all up before you plan to give them away!

This post is part of the BlogHer Market Fresh Cooking series, which includes 100 percent editorial content presented by a participating sponsor. Our advertisers do not produce editorial content. This post is made possible by Hellmann’s/Best Foods and BlogHer.

Your ingredients.

My parents brought me back this brandy from France.

Remove the stems and pits from your cherries.

Then toss them in your brandy syrup before jarring.

Wait 6 weeks and a delicious cocktail will be your reward.

Homemade Brandied Cherries
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4 lbs cherries

Sweet brandied cherries, perfect for cocktails or dessert.
  • 4 pounds whole bing cherries, stems and pits removed
  • 8 cups brandy (just be sure to use something you’d like to drink)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • Mason jars with tight fitting lids, for storing

  1. Clean your cherries, remove the stems, and remove the pits. Set them in a large bowl.
  2. In a sauce pan, whisk together your brandy and sugars, then add in the cinnamon sticks and the cloves. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove the cloves and the cinnamon sticks from the mixture, and then pour it over the cherries. Stir to combine with a non-reactive wooden or plastic spoon, and allow the cherries and liquid to come to room temperature.
  3. While the cherries cool, sterilize your jars. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, big enough to fit your jars, and drop the jars, with their lids, carefully into the water. Allow them to boil for 10 minutes, and then remove them with tongs. Change out the water, bring more to a boil again, and add the jars for another 10 minutes, along with the lids. Remove them again with tongs, and place them on a clean surface to cool off before jarring your cherries.
  4. When you’re ready, divide the cherries and the liquid among your jars. I used 2 larger mason jars, but you can use whatever you like. Seal the lids on tightly, place them in the fridge, and don’t touch them (and I mean it) for at least 4 weeks. These will keep well in your fridge for up to 1 year.

39 Responses

  1. Those sound and look fabulous. I’ve never canned or jarred anything, and I’m not sure it’s in the near future for me, but I freeze fruit for the winter. Last year I had the perfect amount to get me through until the first cherries and peaches started appearing. Also, it’s nice to eat apples, pears, and oranges in the winter, because they aren’t so yummy in the summer.

  2. 6 weeks for a cocktail?! YES! And you’re so right, there’s no way that I’m paying $8 for berries in the fall!

  3. Four weeeeeeks… I don’t blame you for peeking in on them after two! They look amazing! With cinnamon, cloves and that beautiful color, they must be phenomenal with ice cream. Love that carafe-looking jar in the first picture, too. Good idea, Kramer. Good idea.

  4. MegsieMay says:

    I just went out and bought cherries for this. Now I need to procure brandy. Good thing tomorrow is Friday! Though I might just buy an extra bottle. In case something happens to the first one.

  5. lola23 says:

    Has anyone ever heard of cherry bounce? It’s a cherry liquer that the parents of a friend used to make. It’s sweet and involves soaking cherries in some kind of liquor. This reminds me of it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Katie says:

    It finally cooled down enough that I want to can- now that we’re nearing the end of produce season of course. I put up 6 quarts of pickles this afternoon. I haven’t tried fruit yet, though if the low-cost grocer near me has blood oranges again this winter I’m going to have to try my hand at oranges in syrup. Those cherries are such a lovely project, if I wasn’t the only one in the house that ate them I would have to try it.

  7. Heatherly says:

    When I saw the jar I thought I would have to get out the pressure canner but even though these cherries are in displayed a mason jar, there was no actually canning process involved. I like the simplicity.

  8. Jen says:

    I guess I have to get to freezing and canning stuff. I definitely got sick of root vegetables this past winter.

    p.s. Love the new layout.

  9. Christy says:

    Oooh these look divine! Love those pictures!

  10. Deb says:

    I have yet to try canning whole fruit. I have mastered jam and tomatoes. Your splendid brandied cherries are inspiring me to give it a try. But I better hurry, those sweet red cherries will soon vanish from the market!

  11. Stunning recipe – the cherries, brandy from France, the fact that you canned – wow, just awesome.

  12. Manda says:

    Your recipe sounds like the cherries a local bar makes, and I can’t wait to try it! I was thinking I would make these for Christmas gifts, but obviously I’m starting a little late (as all the cherries are past-season). I realize it’s cheating, but… any idea if frozen cherries might work? Or the Red Hills Fruit Company jarred cherries? (They’re very high-quality sour cherries in water, nothing added). Thanks for posting your recipe!!

  13. Mary says:

    I was also wondering if Frozen Cherries would work? Maybe thaw them out and try to get as much liquid out??

  14. Laticia says:

    I made devil’s food cake balls, stuffed a brandy cherry inside each and dipped in dark chocolate. Ridiculous.

  15. Rob Van Dale says:

    Since bing cherries are out of season (12-19-2012) I’m wondering if the Dark Morrello Cherries in light syrup from Trader Joe’s are an alternative. I don’t want to just give it a try considering the cost of the brandy and spices I already got. I had no idea spices were so pricey!

    • Sydney says:

      I wouldn’t use anything that’s already in a syrup – I would maybe go with frozen cherries that you’ve dried very well or cherries in water.

  16. [...] Related Posts Whisky Peach Upside-Down CakeBanana Daiquiri BreadHomemade Brandied Cherries [...]

  17. Jim says:

    I was watching other videos on canning Brandied Cherries. They put the “filled” jars back into boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes to properly seal the lids, etc. The instructions above (if I am reading them correctly) once filled, hand sealed, to the fridge for at lest 4 weeks (not back into boiling water). This is what I did yesterday and was wondering if I should have boiled the finished product again before going the to fridge?
    Thank you.

    • Sydney says:

      Hey Jim – I didn’t do that – I didn’t even think to! But I ended up keeping mine and eating them with friends for like…4 months, with no reports of stomach problems/death/etc. I think you can definitely go ahead and take that extra step, though, if you want.

      • Jim says:

        Thanks for the quick reply Sydney. Canned them yesterday according to the instructions above (without putting the filled jars back into boiling water). This is the first time I canned anything. Next time I think I will take that extra step. Will enjoy them with a few Manhattans in about 4 to 6 weeks.
        Thanks again!!

        • Paul says:

          Also, if you’re going to process the jars for 10 minutes, you don’t need to sterilize the empty jars beforehand. You just need to get them hot so they don’t crack when you pour in hot syrup or submerge them in the hot water bath.

          • Devon Karn says:

            If you are processing the filled jars (i.e. putting them in the boiling water to seal), you do need to boil the jars or put them in a dishwasher to sterilize them before filling with cherries. Processed jars don’t need to be refrigerated, so the boiling step before filling them not only prevents cracks like Paul says, it prevents botulism in canned goods stored on the shelf :) The alcohol will probably do it, too, but proper canning always starts with sterilized jars.

          • Paul says:

            It’s a common misconception. If you are processing for 10 minutes or longer you need not sterilize the jars. http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/general/recomm_jars_lids.html

  18. [...] and I think that everyone appreciates a properly made old fashioned, especially if you have any brandied cherries leftover from the summer; we obviously ran out of ours, as I made them last July, but I will [...]

  19. Uhoh, I know what we’re doing this weekend. Can’t wait.

  20. Mike says:

    How did you get almost 3 L of brandy out of 1 bottle? are you sure about the 8 cups?

  21. alice says:

    Why would some people ferment Brandied Cherries?

  22. Billy says:

    Doesn’t the simmering evaporate off most of the alcohol?

    • OffGrid says:

      Not really. The concentration of alcohol is low, so it would take either a very very long time simmering, or a pan where the liquid was very very shallow (1/8 inch deep?). Simmering does evaporate some of the alcohol, but it isn’t significant for most purposes.

  23. Annie says:

    Would this work with bourbon instead of brandy? In Manhattan cocktails, do they put bourbon infused cherries or brandied?

  24. Ruby Jane says:

    Pommeau de Normandie isn’t brandy. It’s a liqueur made with apple must and calvados. It’s only 17% alcohol and you generally drink it over ice.

  25. Charles says:

    Ok, I just put a half dozen jars in the fridge to slumber (hopefully) for four weeks or more. Now, where do I find fancy reed skewers like in your second photo? I had some similar served to me in a bar in Park City, and it looks a little like bamboo, but maybe steamed and tied?

  26. Ottavio says:

    I’ve had cherries in brandy in the fridge for almost three years! We haven’t tried them yet and I’m not sure they’re still good. They’ve been refrigerated this whole time. We bought them for my wife’s parents, but they haven’t been back to us to visit until now. Would the brandy preserve the cherries?

  27. kiki says:

    I also like to preserve cherries in brandy but wonder if you could leave in the piths and the stem

  28. Sharon KNorr says:

    I don’t understand why they need to be in the fridge. I don’t put any of my canned preserves in the fridge until after they are opened.

    • Sydney says:

      Mostly because I don’t have any other place to keep a jar of cherries in my apartment – I’m working with 650 square feet, here! :)

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