The first thing we did was to make Black Cherry Crème Fraîche Ice Cream. That was a huge hit, and I have saved some pitted black cherries in the freezer for another batch.
While I was pitting the cherries for the ice cream, I started thinking that I should definitely find some projects that use the pits. So I am also making cherry pit vinegar and noyeaux liqueur with them. I have even found a recipe for Cherry Pit Ice Cream! There is some real controversy over using the pits in food, since they do contain small amounts of an enzyme that converts to cyanide. Some people are really freaked out about that, and some people don’t think it’s worth worrying about at all. Here are some posts on that, and you can decide for yourself what to do. I have just opted not to crush the pits, and let the flavor seep into other liquids without actually consuming the pits. I am comfortable with that. (But if someone made me some cherry pit ice cream, I would totally eat it.)
On the first day of cherry picking, we collected a nice amount of morello cherries. These are more tart, and are supposed to make a really nice liqueur. So that’s what I’ve done with them. I simply layered cherries and sugar, and then immersed those layers in vodka. We made sloe gin this way last year, and it turned out really nicely. This will take a few months, and I’m totally fine with that. I imagine we’ll be able to use the cherries we pull out of the liqueur for something interesting, too.
The cherries we picked the most of near home are quite small, but full of dark, syrupy cherry flavor. Our first haul was made into a Black Cherry Soda, which I made using a similar method similar to the one I posted about making Elderflower Soda— instead of brewing a tea, I bashed the cherries for their juice and fortified it with some sugar, and added water and a little whey. It’s really good! Pulpy, but super carbonated, and the flavor is really intense.
Once we accumulated a large amount of the little black cherries over a few days, I decided to make those into wine, since I had about 5-6 pounds of them. I was not up to the challenge of pitting hundreds of them, so I froze them first. This helps them break down more easily during the fermenting process. I let them thaw, then bashed them severely inside the fermenting tub with a bottle. They are going through their first ferment right now, and then I’ll strain out the cherry matter and put the liquid into some demijohns. I’m basically following the same process I used for making Elderberry Wine. [OK. Let me just stop right here and tell you that, a year later, that elderberry wine is amazing. I can’t believe we managed to produce something so wonderful, and we will definitely be making a bigger batch this year!]
Here are some other ideas for using up a wonderful cherry harvest:
What is your favorite way to use up a bounty of cherries?