Warm spices and a sweet-tart brine make these cherries ideal with duck or pork. Chop a few and add to a cream-cheese-topped biscuit with country ham for a sweet and salty Southern canapé.
2 1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons canning-and-pickling salt
1 vanilla bean, split
7 whole cloves
7 star anis
7 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 pounds fresh dark sweet cherries, washed, stemmed, and pitted
How to Make It
Sterilize jars, and prepare lids.
While jars are boiling, stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve.
Place 1 clove, 1 star anise, and 1 cinnamon stick in each hot jar. Pack cherries tightly into jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace (about 12 cherries in each jar). Remove vanilla bean from pan; discard. Cover cherries with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal and process jars, processing 10 minutes.
Remove jars from water, and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature 24 hours. To check seals, remove the bands, and press down on the center of each lid. If the lid doesn’t move, the jar is sealed. If the lid depresses and pops up again, the jar is not sealed. Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.
Use a cherry pitter or a large paper clip to pit cherries while leaving them whole.
Total time: 1 hour, 7 min., plus 3 weeks standing time