So easy and rewarding! You don't even have to process these; just store them in the refrigerator, where they'll keep for at least a couple months (you might want to halve the quantities, though, for the sake of refrigerator shelf space). They are a great excuse for making Sidecars or Manhattans, or Roast Cornish Hens - that is, if you can resist swiping them from the jar.
- 2 cups brandy
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 orange, removed in large strips with a vegetable peeler
- 3 pounds sweet cherries, pitted (see Notes)
Prepare for water-bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot, put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl (see Notes.)
In a wide, 6- to 8-quart preserving pan, combine the brandy, wine, sugar, and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, then add the cherries, return to a boil, and lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are tender but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the sterilized jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
Ladle the hot cherries and syrup into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it's just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn't sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately. Label the sealed jars and store.