Cherries are the best fruit on the planet and sadly have a very short season. Falling over the middle of summer they scream Christmas to those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere. This recipe for cherries preserved in spiced port is wonderful to make for now or later. Whilst feeling very festive they are a delicious dessert all year round.
A bowl of chilled cherries makes the perfect snack and my December is always filled with red-stained fingers. Since they are so special and only visit us for a short season, it’s best to buy them in bulk and directly from the farm.
The season was meant to continue into January, but all these unseasonal storms and flash floods in the Western Cape have caused havoc in the orchards. The online ordering to Cape Town is sadly now closed but cherries are still available in Pick n Pay hurry before they run out.
Cherry Time normally delivers door-to-door in selected areas in the Western cape They can also be found in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. Look at the bottom of their website to find all the relevant contact information. Keep that in mind for next year.
How to make cherries preserved in spiced port syrup:
The only bit of work when making these cherries in port syrup is de-pipping them. I use a metal de-pipper as seen in the pic above. This is a labour of love and I suggest getting family and friends involved. The de-pipping can all be done in advance.
Peel 2 thick strips of zest from an orange and then juice the orange. Add it to a cup measure jug and top up with water until it reaches 250ml (1 cup).
Use a whole vanilla bean if you have and split it down the middle. If you do not have one, simply add a teaspoon of vanilla extract at the end when the syrup is cooked and about to be poured into the jars.
Ensure the jars are sterilized before you fill them. If you are keeping them for just a few weeks they will store perfectly in the fridge. If you need to store them for longer, follow the process to properly preserve them by submerging them in boiling water. You can find out more here.
The cherries only need three and a half minutes once added to the boiling syrup. You want them to retain some crunch. Cook the port syrup for a further 10 minutes over low heat allowing it to thicken. Once cooked add the vanilla extract if you did not use a vanilla pod.
Remember to remove all the aromatics from the syrup before you add it to the cherries in a jar.
Seal the lid and turn them upside down for a few minutes until cool.
Store them in the fridge until you use them.
What to serve these cherries preserved in spiced port syrup with?
These cherries in syrup are perfect with vanilla ice cream. Make an adult boozy ice cream Sunday of dreams.
Spoon these cherries over pancakes, waffles, and ice cream for the ultimate ice cream parlour dessert.
Top your favourite cheesecake with these cherries or layer with vanilla cake, whipped cream, and Mascarpone to make a trifle.
Add a cherry and some juice to a flute of bubbly to make a delicious cocktail.
Spoon them over your breakfast yogurt to make a decadent treat.
A few of my favourite cherry recipes:
Recipe – makes 2 half-pint jars approx 300ml
Cherries in spiced port syrup
- 700 gms fresh Cherry Time cherries stalks removed and pitted
- 2 thick strips of zest peeled off an orange
- The juice of 1 orange
- ¾ 155gms cup granulated white sugar
- 1 cup 250ml good port
- 2- star anise pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean split and seeds removed (if you don’t have a vanilla bean, use 1 tsp vanilla extract but add this at the end)
- Remove the stalks and pips from the cherries and set aside
- Measure the orange juice in a jug and top it up with water to reach 1 cup (250ml). Add this to a medium-sized pot along with the sugar, port, star anise, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla pod.
- Bring this to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar and then add the cherries. Cook for 3.5 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in the sterilized jar.
- Cook the port syrup for 10 minutes over low heat allowing it to thicken. Once cooked add the vanilla extract if you did not use a vanilla pod.
- Remove the aromatics from the liquid and pour this into the jars with the cherries. Seal the lid and turn them upside down for a few minutes until cool.
- Store them in the fridge until you use them.
- *If you want to preserve these cherries for longer, follow the process to properly seal and boil the jars.
*This post is sponsored by Cherry Time