Yes, yes. I know this is the wrong time of year to talk about sweet cherries, but I’m eating them now so therefore I’m writing about them. I mean, I’m not eating them now now, but over the last few days and weeks, yes, nom-nom-nom. It’s been delicious.
So to start off, how about some quick c-bounce Q&A? You go first.
Question: What is cherry bounce?
Answer: It’s pure marvelousness, that’s what.
Question: No. I mean, what’s it made of.
Answer: Oh, oops! Sweet cherries, sugar, alcohol, and spices.
Question: Is it hard to make?
Answer: Nope. Stuff a bunch of jars full with sweet cherries, top off the jars with a brandy-sugar syrup, and then place the jars in a dark corner until mid winter when you, rather suddenly, remember that you have them.
Question: How do you eat cherry bounce?
Answer: There are a variety of ways. For the juice part, just pour it into pretty little glasses and drink it straight. It makes an excellent dessert beverage, or a fantastic little treat to serve to your girlfriends when they show up to chew the fat out on the deck. (Bonus: everyone will simultaneously be smitten with the very fun “Oooo, I feel like Anne of Green Gables drinking cordial with Diana!” vibe.) You can also add the juice to other drinks, like margaritas or piña coladas or lemonade. As for the cherries, eat them straight, spitting out the seeds as you go, or pit a few and a) stir them into brownies, or b) top a bowl of vanilla ice cream with them, followed by a drizzle (or deluge) of juice, or c) create some other luscious concoction of your choosing.
Question: How did you learn about cherry bounce?
Answer: Last summer when I was up to my eyeballs in sweet cherries, I googled different ways to put up cherries and came across a whole bunch of recipes for cherry bounce. I picked the easiest one — ie, the one that didn’t involve pitting them — and whipped up a batch.
Question: How’d you know you’d like them?
Answer: I didn’t. I’m not a huge fan of sweet cherries, and cherry beverages tend to make me think of cough syrup. As a result, I was in no rush to use them and they languished in the jelly cupboard for months and months. But then I popped one open, and, well, now I’m almost out. This summer I’ll be making loads more, for sure. I might even switch to gallon jars. Or at least quarts.
Question: How crowd friendly is cherry bounce?
Answer: Very. Everyone I’ve given it to — my husband, my kids (just sips, don’t freak!), my friends — has had similar reactions: a brief moment of silence followed by 1) their eyes popping wide open, and 2) an involuntary expression of intense pleasure. Even my mom who doesn’t like alcohol said she liked it, though she did add that she thinks it’s a bit too sweet.
Question: June is a long way off. Any chance I could use frozen sweet cherries to bounce myself to bliss?
Answer: No idea. Wouldn’t hurt to try!
Adapted from Taste of Home.
Confession: I’m not exactly sure how I made my current batch of cherry bounce. I read so many recipes that, while I’m sure this one was the baseline, I may have thrown in some other spices that I no longer recall, or used a different process. The recipe below is as close to what I think I made as I can remember, but there are loads of ingredient/process variations, should you so choose. For example:
*use vodka instead of rum and brandy (or use Captain Morgan’s for the rum)
*use cinnamon sticks, cloves, and a whole nutmeg in place of the allspice
*don’t use any spices at all
*use sour cherries instead of sweet
*use cherries that have been pitted and/or mashed
*add the juice and zest of a lemon
In other words, you can do pretty much anything with the basic formula of cherries + sugar + alcohol + a few weeks/months in a cool dark place = cherry bounce. Have at it!
(I’m not sure I cooked the cherries, and if I did, I may have added some water? Also, I wonder if I could put just a cup of the cherries in the bottom of a quart jar and then top off with the sugar-brandy syrup — would it still be cherry-y enough? Thoughts to consider….)
5 pounds sweet cherries, unpitted
2 cups white sugar
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1½ cups brandy
1½ cups rum
Put cherries in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until tender. If the cherries don’t release their juice right away, add a splash of water to keep them from burning. Strain, reserving the juice, and divide the cherries between 6-8 pint jars.
Return the juice to the sauce pan and add the sugar and allspice. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely before adding the brandy and rum.
Pour the syrup over the cherries, lid, and store in a cool, dark place for 1-3 months before using.
This same time, years previous: the quotidian (2.11.19), no more Luna, opening, what will I wish I had done differently?, adventuring, the quotidian (3.12.12), all by himself, for all we know, dunging out, blondies and breakdowns, let’s talk.