Who says you need to start pickling with cucumbers? For that matter, why start pickling with any vegetable? Pickled sweet cherries can add an irresistible burst of sweet and tart flavor to your next charcuterie board or be a refreshing snack in their own right—and they can be ready to enjoy within an hour.
That’s right. With this recipe, you can cut out the waiting game that’s familiar to anyone with pickling experience. Just make sure you’re stocked up on Northwest cherries, which are only available during specific seasons.
Why Northwest Cherries?
Northwest cherries are known for their exceptionally large size and sweet flavor profile. That means they’re big enough, even when pitted and halved, to absorb the vinegar and flavorings, but also have plenty of sweetness to balance out that tartness of the vinegar. That balance is essential, and you can only really achieve it with Northwest cherries. Otherwise you’ll risk the fruit becoming overly sour or cloyingly sweet.
When Are Northwest Cherries Available?
Despite many trends moving in the opposite direction, Northwest cherries remain one of the true seasonal fruits. They’re available from early June through August, which is serendipitous because they’re such a refreshing summer snack, whether they’re pickled or not.
How to Choose Northwest Cherries
Northwest cherries are already darker than other cherries, but even among Northwest varieties, the darkest cherries are usually the sweetest. That’s the result of extended hang time, during which Northwest cherries develop more sugars and phenolic compounds using the sun’s energy. That’s a long way of saying that you should look for dark cherries with firm, shiny and smooth skins. Once you’ve got those, you’ll be enjoying pickled cherries in no time.
Quick Pickled Cherries
- 1 pound fresh Northwest cherries (dark sweet)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice blend
- 1 large sprig fresh thyme
- 6 inch strip of lemon zest
- 1/2 cubic inch fresh ginger
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1. Rinse, pit and halve (if you choose) cherries. Set them aside.
2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a small pot and bring to low boil over medium heat.
3. Add cherries, remove from heat and cover for 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Pour the cherries into a strainer with large holes over the sink. Rinse very briefly with cool water to clear spices.
5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to cool and store or use immediately.