Life is like a bowl of cherries until you turn it into cherry brandy when it gets even better! I just love cherry season when you can come home with punnets of delicious plump cherries and conjure up some amazing cherry recipes. But who says it has to be something to eat! This recipe is as good as any dessert!
You can underestimate how much flavour and colour cherries have compared to other fruits… you only have to see it in this recipe once 2 weeks have passed when you see how much colour the cherry has imparted to the brandy.
To me, cherry brandy is a winter drink… sipping it by the fire after a nice meal. But of course it has to be made when the cherries are plump and ripe and the longer you leave it the more delicious it becomes. So now is the perfect time to make the cherry brandy in time for Christmas! You can drink it from 6 weeks on, but believe me it is so much nicer when it turns a ruby-red and is as smooth as silk….
So this is how I make the healthier version of cherry brandy and you won’t believe how easy it is! Unfortunately I can’t claim this recipe as my own. This is my hubby Andrew’s version and he has been making it this way for years using raw honey instead of sugar. We would often start drinking it after 6 weeks offering it to our guests after dinner parties until one year we had forgotten about the extra bottle stashed away…..imagine forgetting that! Well we couldn’t believe the difference a few extra months made… it was smooth, rich and sweet with a deep cherry flavour. So if you can resist the urge to drink it after 6 weeks then please do… or at least make 4 extra bottles to keep tucked away in your larder…remember out of sight, out of mind…..
Make sure you buy your ingredients when buying your cherries as this is best made when the cherries are freshly picked. There are only 3 ingredients in this recipe… cherries, brandy and honey! Use a medium good quality brandy…I could tell you to buy an expensive brandy but it isn’t necessary and is a waste of money as the cherries make any cheaper brandy taste smoother and with the flavour of the cherries at the end of the maturing time you can’t tell if it’s an X.O or a V.S brandy. Simply wash and pick the stems off the cherries. There is no need to stone them. Just prick them with a fork and place them into a 1.5 litre jar. Top them up with the brandy, give it a shake and leave it for 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks, or when the cherries have lost their colour, drain the brandy and discard the cherries. Place the brandy back in the jars. Now here’s the fun part… add raw honey to taste by adding one tablespoon at a time. I would start with 2 tablespoons and then shake the jar. After another 2 weeks taste again and add more honey if required. The sweetness is totally up to you… some like it slightly tart and others like the cherry brandy extremely sweet. I like it in between so I add around 3 tablespoons of honey per jar.
A week after the last of the honey has been added decant into a decorative bottle and filter off the sediment. Repeat the filtering a second time.
Leave the brandy to mature for as long as you can. Three months is best…the longer the better! It still tastes delicious 6 months later. Pour into your favourite glass and sip while enjoying the flavours. Naughty but nice!
- 500g freshly picked ripe cherries
- 600ml good quality brandy
- 2-4 tablespoons raw honey
- 1.5 litre jar
- Wash the cherries and remove the stems. Do not stone them as this keeps them fresh.
- Prick the cherries with a fork and place them in a large jar, approximately 1.5 litres.
- Add the brandy and shake. Leave for 2 weeks or until the colour has been removed from the cherries.
- Drain the brandy and discard the cherries. Place the brandy back in the jar and add the honey to taste. For a sweeter brandy add 4-5 tablespoons and for a less sweet brandy then 2-3 tablespoons. The brandy sweetens more when maturing.
- Leave for another week then filter through a fine sieve twice.
- Decant into a decorative bottle and leave for 3 months. It can be left to mature for more than 6 months.
- Use a good quality brandy, however, there is no need for an expensive one as the cherries sweeten and smooth a less mature brandy