Ah cherries. Occasionally, in your call for bing-related bliss, you deceive. For starters, life is not always a bowl full of you. No, we've been sorely misinformed. Sometimes life feels more like a rectangular Pyrex dish full of vinegar.
Now, I'm not a pessimist. I am neither a realist nor a dreamer. I like to think of myself as an optimistic cynic. (I've never looked good in rose-colored glasses, but I'm fairly certain a black beret would look just as ridiculous.)
Which is why I'm so in love with these pickled cherries at the moment. If you soak a bowl full of cherries in vinegar you get what I might call "life," in real time. Sweet and sour.
Sometimes life is rosey. Sometimes life makes your face pucker. Sometimes the glass is half full. Sometimes it's half empty. And sometimes, you mix yourself a perfect manhattan—the one with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth—and then proceed to slug it: in which case, whatever was in that glass is gone, baby gone.
Just like these cherries will be, when you determine they can hang with pretty much anything, from your salad course straight through till dessert. They'd even be a fine stand-in for the maraschino cherry in [throat clear] a manhattan. They are the perfect cherry-on-top kind of cherry, if it's not feeling like an ice cream sundae kind of summer. (Perhaps it's feeling more like manhattan swilling season?)
And if you are anything like me, things oscillate somewhere in the middle. So between the sundaes and stiff drinks, try to squeeze in some pickled cherries every now and again. They are the perfect neutralizer for a less-than-perfect life.
Pickled Bing Cherries
1.5 cups vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
4 cardamom pods, smashed
10 pink peppercorns
1 tsp grains of paradise
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of mace
Peel of 1 orange, pith removed
1 serrano pepper, split lengthwise and then cut into small chunks
About 2 cups cherries, pitted
Combine first 9 ingredients in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. While mixture is coming to a boil, place the cherries and the serrano pepper in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the cherries and peppers and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
Makes about 2 cups of pickled cherries (plus cherry vinegar!)
-If you don't have grains of paradise you can substitute a few black peppercorns.
-It's best to let this sit a day or two before fully enjoying the, ahem, fruits of your labor.
-For my money (and oddly for my pleasure) I've found the best way to pit cherries is with a large paperclip. A trick passed down to me by my grandmother. She's made a few cherry pies in her day ...
-This recipe was adapted from this one.