Sour cherries are not grown in Santa Barbara, but occasionally show up at our farmer's markets. I love their tart flavor in preserves or pies. Sweet cherries are not grown here either, but are much easier to find, and it's cherry season now. Farmers bring cherries to our market from Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley.
Here's a cherry conserve that leaves the cherries nearly whole. It's delicious spooned into yogurt, spooned over ice cream or a pound cake, and even spooned onto buttered toast.
Yields 1 cup of Sour Cherry Conserve
3/4 lb. sour cherries, pitted
1/4 lb. sweet cherries, pitted
1/3 c. mild honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. Luxardo Maraschino liquer or kirsch.
Combine all ingredients and soak in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This will start to draw the juices out of the cherries and infuse the fruit with the honey.
Spoon out the cherries and set aside. Bring the juices to a boil, then simmer on low, uncovered, for about 4 minutes. Juices will thicken. Add the cherries, with perhaps a splash of water if needed, and simmer, uncovered, for about 8 minutes. Add the liquer and cook another 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Turn off heat. Conserve will set up when chilled. Store in refrigerator for several weeks.
Note: If you can't find sour cherries, use 1 lb. sweet cherries and reduce the honey to taste - you'd probably need just a couple of tablespoons.