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.)

Homemade Brandied Cherries

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.

Homemade Brandied Cherries
Your ingredients.

Homemade Brandied Cherries
My parents brought me back this brandy from France.

Homemade Brandied Cherries
Remove the stems and pits from your cherries.

Homemade Brandied Cherries
Then toss them in your brandy syrup before jarring.

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

5.0 from 2 reviews
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.

75 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.

    • There are several different opinions on an “official” Cherry Bounce, but it is is typically sour cherries steeped in sugar, spice, and booze (rum, brandy, bourbon or vodka – mostly bourbon). Some recipes just reduce the liquid…some the whole batch. Very similar to this recipe, actually…except the liquid is what is sought after rather than the cherries. This is supposed to have come over from Europe and been a big fave of some of the First Ladies of this country. (Rumor is George & Martha Washington’s family brought to the U.S.) Ton of recipes available on a web search.

      We do cherries like this…..longer they sit, the better. Like 6-8 months.

      We also make Cherry Bombs. Basically sugar, Everclear, and maraschinos. Like eating a hot pepper….still not sure why we make those and eat them. Almost torture.

  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.

    • Bob says:

      Hey are very tasty. Serve over vanilla ice cream

    • David C Randall says:

      Actually the Morello Cherries from TJ are perfect for this. They’re in a very light liquid, and they’re tart to begin with, which I think works better with this. Plus they’re not expensive and available year-round. I just remove a cup or less of liquid, replace with brandy, add 1/2 c sugar and leave it on the shelf in the fridge. Boiling it down first sounds good though

  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.

    • C. Wood says:

      Glad you said that, Ruby Jane. I laughed when I saw the photo. In fact, because the author actually called the pommeau “brandy” I just rejected the whole recipe because he obviously did not know much about liquors, liqueurs, aperitifs, or cooking. Did not want to waste my precious brandy and cherries on a novice recipe. I came back to leave a comment and found you already did.

  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! :)

    • If you haven’t heat-processed the filled jars (that is, submerging the sealed jars in boiling water for 10 minutes), refrigerating helps to keep the harmful bacteria from growing. I am always a little bit nervous about skipping the heat processing step, although I do suspect it changes the texture of whatever’s in the jars for the worse.

  29. Dave S says:

    Since trying this recipe in the summer of 2013, I’m about to brew up my fourth batch. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And from everyone that I’ve given a jar of them, they thank you too.

  30. kirranb says:

    Trying these right now for the first time, with bourbon instead of brandy, and a much smaller batch because…that’s all I bought! They look and smell delicious, can’t wait to try them :) thanks for the great recipe, I spent ages combing google until I found one (ie. yours) that sounded (and looked) right!

  31. Barbara B. says:

    I made a batch with stemless maraschino cherries and let them set for a few weeks. They were a big hit at a recent party. People ate the cherries from a cup, put cherries in their drinks, and added the juice to different cocktails and champagne. Now I know what to give for Christmas presents – I just bought a gallon of maraschino cherries from a restaurant supply.

  32. Santosh says:

    thanks for your recipe, could you say how to remove the seeds

  33. Kate says:

    If you leave the pits in, as I did a long time ago when I tried to make brandied cherries and cherry brandy (simultaneously), sadly, the brandy and the cherries were terribly bitter.

  34. Jen says:

    Is the addition of extra sugar essential? I would prefer to just use cherries, brandy, and spices – realizing that it won’t be so sweet. Would that still be foodsafe?

    Thank you so much!

    • Sydney says:

      Hi Jen – to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend it, or at least if you do, try it with a very small batch – my thought is that they just won’t taste very good.

    • I’ve been making these for 20 years, and tried without sugar early on. What you get without any sugar is cherries that acted like a filter and absorbed the full essence (good and bad) of whatever booze you used. They get spicy, almost like a pepper…even when using top end stuff. The sugar brings more to the table than you can envision….I used raw can sugar in the last batch too. Probably the best I’ve made to date.

  35. Mike says:

    I tried the recipe, but put the jars in boiling water after for 10 minutes. Very strange, when I turned off the heat the pot kept boiling and I could tell some of the liquid had leaked into the boiling water. I waited for 5 minutes and removed the jars from the water. The liquid in the jars was still boiling. It took a while for it to stop. I did hear clicking indicating the jars were sealing. Some of the cherries at the top are no longer covered with liquid. When it cools overnight I will check the seals. Hope it turns out OK. Thanks!!

  36. Mike says:

    Also, I canned some apricots at the same time and boiled right after the cherries. I did not have the same problem with the apricots. They had brandy and sugar in the recipe also, but also had water. I am thinking the pure brandy and sugar solution in the cherries may have had something to do with the issue. I’ll post in the morning when everything has cooled. Good night!

  37. […] – tart as all get-out and a beautiful burgundy shade, the Balaton variety is excellent for making cherry brandy. These cherries are also optimal for pies and salads, and they can be […]

  38. Jae says:

    I am diabetic. Can you use Splenda and get good results?

    • Sydney says:

      Hi Jae – I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, I have no idea. I’m not sure that the chemicals will react in the same way but they might? You could freeze any fresh cherries and try a small batch and see, too.

  39. […] found really interesting this recipe of brandied cherries: cheers mates and enjoy your […]

  40. Mel says:

    I definitely intend to try this recipe! my tree is laden with fruit , first time in 8 years! and I don’t want to waste a single cherry. never thought of freezing, will try that too. Wondering why I have cherries on my tree this time of year????? I live in Australia and we ALWAYS have cherries at Christmas. can’t wait to open my jars in the winter!

  41. Debbie says:

    Can fruit, especially cherries be preserved in alcohol without ANY sugar?

    • Sydney says:

      I personally have never tried this and can’t say for certain! I assume that it’s possible but I don’t think they’d taste very good.

    • I have a few friends here in WI that make what’s called “Cherry Bombs”. They are basically jarred maraschinos that have the syrup removed and Everclear or some other clear booze replacing the syrup. The cherries go white instantly and after a month or so come back to a dark pink color. Having one or more of these is almost a punishment, if you follow me.

      On a side note, I know some people that rehydrate Craisins (dried cranberries) in gin. And that isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think.

      Hard to go wrong with this recipe. If you have a tough time getting your hands on fresh cherries, especially during the winter months, this recipe goes very well using dried cherries also. I adjusted the recipe using a 20 oz. bag of dried tart cherries from Costco, and the results were pretty outstanding.

  42. Jill says:

    I have just made these after bringing 3kg beautiful Tasmanian cherries home with me after our trip at Christmas. They already taste divine (I might have sampled them), can’t wait to try them again in 4 weeks!

    • Eric Pearson says:

      I have been making brandied fruit for 30+ years. Once you process it in the hot water, it keeps on the shelf for YEARS. Just keep it away from light (especially sunlight), which will bleach the fruit. I refrigerate each jar after I open it. This year I am making almost 4 gallons of brandied fruit. It makes great holiday / birthday / etc. gifts as you can rarely find similar in stores. The recipes I have seen call for a wide range of sugar. Some say equal volumes of sugar and fruit. Some say 2-3 TB sugar per pint of fruit.

      One of the definitive recipes is ‘Tutti Frutti Cockaigne’ from Joy of Cooking.

  43. Katy Duvall says:

    Is there anything you can do with the brandy liquor once you finish the cherries? I hate to waste it. The cherries were delicious, btw! Great recipe!

    • Sydney says:

      You can definitely use it to make a cocktail, if you want, as a sweetener! I’m glad you liked the cherries.

      • CannedHeat says:

        If it is too thin for your liking, reduce it down in a sauce pan. I let it cool then and pour it into a cheap clear plastic squeeze bottle. Goes very well as a base for an old fashioned. Next batch, I may add some bitters in after cooled and see how it turns out. I keep that chilled in the fridge also….

  44. H J D says:

    I have never tried bottling any fruit before, but now that I live in SW France, where this kind of thing is popular and we have the most delicious large black cherries that are irresistable, I’m going to give it a try.
    Incidentally, Pommeau is not strictly brandy but a mixture of Calvados mixed with unfermented apple juice in the proportion 1 to 3. It probably works well in your recipe because, according to Wikki, “The resulting drink is mahogany in colour with a bright lustre, and has an overall smooth taste, often with vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavours”.

  45. TheRuttmeister says:

    For anyone (like I was) wondering how many jars you need… I followed this recipe, and filled 12 8oz jars.

    I was also left with at least 16oz, maybe a lot more (I didn’t measure), of the liquid, after filling the jars. This I then left to reduce down to a syrupy consistency (8oz).
    This was based on CannedHeat’s suggestion, and it makes a great base for an old fashioned!

  46. Michael says:

    Hi Sydney, this the first time I am looking at your blog and instantly love it. Quick question, is it ok to leave the stems on the cherries? I always think that adds a certain appeal to the cherry as a garnish.

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