Late Harvest Riesling Preserved Cherries

On a recent trip to the Black Forest I tasted the most heavenly Black Forest cake. Late Harvest Riesling is a Rhine River wine that is now a Washington state specialty. When cherry season came I developed this recipe to use as a topping on chocolate cake for fond memories of the Black Forest. It also is delightful over a bowl of chocolate ice cream.

4 pints

INGREDIENTS:

1 bottle sweet Late Harvest Riesling (750 milliliter)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
4 pounds sweet red cherries, pits removed and reserved (about 8 cups)
1 teaspoon almond extract 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash four pint size jars, lids and screw bands in warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. Bring a water-canner half full water to a simmer. Turn off the heat. Place the jars and lids in the water.
  2. In a non-reactive sauce pan place the wine, sugar, orange juice and Kirschwasser. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Add the cherries and bring back to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Remove the cherries with a slotted metal spoon and distribute between the four hot pint size jars.
  4. Add the reserved cherry pits to the wine mixture. Reduce until syrupy and measures five cups when strained. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Skim off any foam on the surface. Mix in the almond extract. Pour three fourths of a cup over each jar of cherries until three quarters of an inch from the jar rim. Wipe the rims with a clean wet cloth. Place the lids on top. Screw the bands on lightly and then one more turn. Not too tight.
  5. Place in the water-canner on a rack. The water should be one to two inches above the jars. Cover with a lid. Bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for twenty minutes (elevations above 1,000 feet simmer an additional five minutes). Turn off the heat and let the jar rest for five minutes in the water. Remove the jars and place on a towel to cool. Test the top of the jars after 5 hours by pressing in the middle of the lid with a finger. The lids should not spring back. If they do place in the refrigerator and use within a month. 
  6. Let the jars rest on the towel for twenty four hours. Wash, label and date each jar. All other jars should be stored in a dark, cool place for up to one year. Refrigerate after opening.
Lilly Stenbroten