Perfect Pickled Bing Cherries

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
5 cloves
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.


  1. Hi there! These look spectacular! How do you use/eat these when they are pickled? A charcuterie platter perhaps? Just looking for ideas-would love to make them this weekend. :)

  2. I just love your analogies! These look so beautiful and I would be very interested to taste them

  3. I bet they's also be good on a sandwich! I will be trying these, look amazing and quite unique! Thanks, Chris

  4. A charcuterie platter would be a fantastic use of them! Oh yes, I'm thinking pate would be lovely. I've been dumping them in salad, to add an extra kick. (They are definitely vinegar-y) I also think they'd be great in a salami-type sandwich.

    There is a bar here in Boston that serves pickled grapes, along with onions, etc. as a bar snack. These would fit right in too. Cocktail hour anyone?

  5. these are so intriguing! I love how you relate them to life. beautifully written!

  6. I love cherries, but I must admit I've never thought of them like this. We do a lot of cheese plates for summer dinners, they might do well there. Love the musings about life!

  7. Would never have thought to pickle fruit! We are coming into our fruit season with lots available to for picking at a local farm. I love homemade jam but also love having an alternative way to preserve them, thank you!

  8. I have never had pickled cherries, I am intrigued! Such a well written post too.

  9. Ooh. I have to say, I wouldn't have thought to pickle cherries, and I'm not much of a drinker, but just reading that recipe makes me want to get pickling- and then see what I can whip up in the way of cocktails!

  10. Molly Wizenberg's "A Homemade Life" has a pickled grapes recipe. I've had my eye on it for a few years now; perhaps these and those will have to meet up for a cocktail hour some time soon.

  11. I've never had pickled cherries before, but this post is making me want to! Sweet and sour can be such a good combination!
    I love what you said about being an optimistic cynic too. Really enjoyed reading this post!

  12. fellow optimistic cynic here. i never understood how life was comparable to a bowl of cherries, but oh well. i've never pickled them, either, but i'd be tickled to try it!

  13. I have purchased 3 separate bunches of Bings to try this recipe. Each time, I or my family consume them as is. Instant gratification without a sense of adventure...perhaps another statement of life. Will persevere as this recipe sounds like mainstay potential.

  14. Hahaha, I can definitely sympathize. The bings are wonderful, as is; it's hard to dunk them in vinegar when they are so fresh right now. Might be a good thing to do when you've almost had your fill of cherries. (Okay, is that possible?!)