A handful of sweet, juicy cherries epitomizes great summer eating but sometimes that dark, sweet flavor needs to be shared, needs a friend, needs to mingle.
Cherries and lime? Friends. Cherries and shaved ice? Best buds. Do I even need to mention how close cherries and bourbon are? That's why it's best to take at least a pound or two and reduce them to their purest form.
I know I'm not alone when I say the only thing stopping me from creating these combinations is having to remove all those pesky pits. A cherry pitter is a fine contraption, if I didn't mind cherry juice spewing everywhere and staining the favorite white shirt I am inevitably wearing, and if I actually owned a cherry pitter — which I don't. Instead I was determined to find a lazy-lady's way to make a sweet, crimson juice without all the work.
Delightfully, I realized it doesn't take much more than a potato masher and a strainer to separate juice from pit. Simply mash the cherries with some sugar and cook over the stove top until they have released their juice and begin to fall apart. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and you're left with a sweet, ruby syrup that will give everything from limeade to pancakes a seductive cherry spin.
Sweet Cherry Syrup
Makes 1 cup
1 pound stemmed sweet cherries (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Combine cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir to coat cherries in sugar, and then use a potato masher to squash the cherries and release their juice (this will be easier to do once they have warmed up a bit).
Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Cook at a simmer, adjusting heat as necessary, and cook until cherries are soft and start to break down, about 15 minutes.
Set a strainer over a medium bowl and pour cherry mixture into the strainer. Press down on the solids until all the juice has gone through the strainer. Discard solids and chill the syrup until ready to use. Syrup will keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Check back in on Friday, as I'll give you one of my favorite ways to use this cherry syrup!
(Images: Kate Ramos)