janet @ the taste space

Five-Spice Pickled Cherries

In Salads, Sides on August 15, 2012 at 6:20 AM

Am I the only one who gets into trouble during the summer? Trouble in my kitchen, I mean…

So many fruits and veggies to eat at their peak, sometimes I can’t decide what to eat first!

I recently was in Montreal and stopped at the Jean Talon farmer’s market. It was a good thing we didn’t use our bikes that day, because we came home with tons of fresh fruits and veggies. 5L of uber sweet wild blueberries from Lac Saint Jean. Rob and I demolished them within a week just eating them fresh. I also picked up 10 lbs of beets, peaches and carrots. We decided to stop before we bought some freshly picked corn, too. I like to think I have limits, but our list of purchases may suggest otherwise!

At home, I still had some cherries but wanted to focus on the blueberries. So what to do with the cherries? I really enjoyed them marinaded in balsamic vinegar, used both as a sandwich topper but also as a dressing (and topping) for quick salads.

This got me thinking about pickling my own cherries.

I found a few recipes but settled on a savoury pickling spice, filled with all the components of Chinese five spice (Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and fennel) along with bay leaves. I consulted with my Mom because I wanted to decrease the sugar and swap it for another sweetener, and she recommended not tinkering with the recipe because sugars and salts really help keep the proper preservation. So I didn’t… to be able to keep these pickled cherries for a while in my fridge once my fruit obsession has waned. However, if you want to consume the cherries within a week or so, I see no reason why you couldn’t omit the sugar or swap it for agave or maple syrup just like my simple balsamic marinaded cherries.

Since my cans are not sealed, I snuck in a taste and loved the cherries! A bit sweet, but with a nice savoury backdrop from the Chinese five spice. I plan on using them for salads, but I will let you know if I find other tasty ways to use them!

Next pickling project: Beets, I am looking at you! Anyone have good recipes for pickled beets without too much sugar?

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne.

Five-Spice Pickled Cherries
Adapted from She Simmers

600g sweet cherries, washed, stems and pits intact (I also made a bunch with halved cherries)
2 cups red wine vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
3 pieces of star anise
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole fennel seeds

1. Halve your cherries or leave them whole but prick them with a fork so that the vinegar may penetrate the cherries. Place in a glass jar.
2. In a medium pot, combine the red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and all the spices and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by 1/3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
3. Pour the reduced vinegar solution overtop the cherries. It won’t completely submerge them but the cherries with wilt slightly as they exude their own juices. Cap once completely cool.
4. Store cherries in the refrigerator. Will last at least one month.

Makes 4 cups.

  1. Hi Janet.

    I just made the following recipe from Farm Journal’s Homemade Pickles & Relishes by Betsey McCracken, Countryside Press, 1976. The beets are delicious.

    Pickled Beets

    24 small beets
    1 pt. 5% acid strength vinegar
    1 1/4 c. sugar
    2 tblsp. pickling salt
    6 whole cloves
    1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
    3 medium onions, sliced

    Wash beets well. Remove beet tops leaving 1-inch stems and roots. Place in large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Cook, covered, until beets are tender. Drain; reserve 1 c. cooking liquid. Cool beets; remove skins. Cut in slices.

    Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and reserved 1 c. liquid in large saucepan. Tie cloves and cinnamon in cheesecloth bag; add to saucepan. Bring to boiling. Add beets and onions; simmer 5 minutes. Remove spice bag. Immediately pack beets and liquid into 4 hot pint jars, filling to within 1/4-inch from the top. Adjust lids.

    Process in boiling water 30 minutes. Start to count the processing time when water in canner returns to boiling.

    Remove jars. Cool on wire racks 12 to 24 hours. Check jars for airtight seal…. Makes 4 pints.


    P.S. I love your blog.

  2. Is it bad that my first reaction was to want to make a Manhattan with one of these? 🙂

  3. Love the idea of pickling cherries, but I never would have thought of it! clearly I need to get more creative 😉

  4. you are so not the only one! I definitely recognize aforementioned problematic behaviour. This sounds like a great solution. But knowing my own tendencies and those of my boyfriend around cherries, they won’t last long, so I’d probably go for the agave option.

  5. I’ve made pickled cherries before and they are the best! I love the spices you used. I’m the same way with summer produce right now. It’s excessive in the best possible way.

  6. […] unlike the Jean Talon market in Montreal, there are limited samples so I had to resort to my nose to find […]

  7. Hi Janet, Thanks for submitting your awesome pickled cherries to WHB#347. I have just bought some recently and will try your recipe.

  8. […] migrated onto a sandwich with rosemary cashew cheese and arugula, and I pickled a bunch in a five-spice spiked vinegar. I kept on thinking cherry season was over, but they continued to be on sale late into the summer. […]

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