Easy Pickled Cherries | Tin and Thyme

Prepare to get hooked on this easy recipe for pickled cherries. Sweet, sour and totally addictive, cherry pickles create a veritable flavour explosion on the palate. They make a perfect accompaniment to cheese or just eat straight out of the jar as a delightful standalone snack.

A bowl of easy homemade pickled cherries with cheese and salad leaves.

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Dive Right In

Why Make Pickled Cherries?

The process of pickling cherries intensifies and concentrates their flavour. I find they taste more like cherries than they do in their raw state. But that’s not the only reason to make cherry pickles.

Pickled cherries, cheese and lettuce on sourdough toast.
  • Easy Recipe – Recipes don’t come much easier than this one. If you don’t pit the cherries, the whole process takes all of five minutes. If you grow your own, this is an excellent way to deal with a glut.
  • Presentation – With their vibrant colours and glossy appearance, pickled cherries are visually appealing. They make for an eye-catching garnish, adding a pop of colour to your dishes as well as a pop of flavour in your mouth.
  • Prolonged Shelf Life – Pickling is a preservation method that extends the shelf life of all sorts of fruit and vegetables, including cherries. You can then enjoy their deliciousness beyond the usual short season. You can store properly pickled cherries for several months.
  • Unexpected Flavour Combinations – The sweet, sour and spicy flavours of pickled cherries create exciting combinations with other ingredients. They add a twist to familiar dishes. Try them with various cheeses; they work particularly well with goat’s cheese, halloumi and feta. They’re also surprisingly good in desserts such as tarts, black forest gateau or this very cherry cream dessert. Or just enjoy with vanilla ice cream.
  • Unique Flavour Profile – Pickling cherries intensifies and concentrates their flavour. It adds a zippy acidic note that contrasts beautifully with the natural sweetness of the fruit. Combine this with a few spices and you have a unique and versatile ingredient.
  • Versatility – You can use pickled cherries in a variety of culinary applications. Add them to salads, cheese boards, charcuterie platters, sandwiches and even cocktails. You can also use the pickling liquid as a punchy dressing or marinade.

Easy Pickled Cherries

Oh my! Since I first made pickled cherries, I can’t get enough of them. They are so intense and delicious. My favourite way to eat them is straight out of the jar. But I also enjoy them on toast with cheese, my homemade vegan mayonnaise and salad leaves. They’re also great for pepping up salads.

An open clip top jar full of easy to make pickled cherries.

The natural sweetness of the cherries combines with the transformative power of the pickling process, resulting in a complex and exciting flavour profile that is truly irresistible.

After the initial buzz from the cherry, a pleasant but not overpowering warmth from the chilli kicks in. If you’re not a chilli fan, either use less, leave it out or swap it for something else. Peppercorns maybe?

This pickle recipe is actually a two-in-one recipe. Not only do you get pickled cherries but also cherry vinegar. If you haven’t tried making or using fruit vinegars yet, do give them a go. You’ll find a specific recipe for blackcurrant vinegar on Tin and Thyme, but this cherry vinegar works just as well.

I call this recipe easy pickled cherries because there’s no need to pit the cherries – unless you really want to. To pit or not to pit? The choice is yours.

To Pit Or Not To Pit?

It’s time consuming pitting fresh cherries, but it’s also a bit of a faff to remove the stones after pickling too. You can, of course, serve them them whole with your cheese or whatever but if you do, please warn diners. You don’t want them cracking their teeth or unintentionally swallowing the pits.

A cherry pitter in action with some stones removed.

On the other hand, the cherry stones contain quite a bit of flavour which seeps out into the cherry making them even tastier. It’s also thriftier to leave the stones in as less is wasted when taking them out post pickling.

Once the cherries are well pickled, it’s quite easy to tear them open with your fingers and remove the stone.

If you do go down the pitting route, it’s worth investing in a dedicated cherry pitter*. It makes the process of removing pits much quicker and easier than other methods.

Ingredients

Other than the fruit, you don’t need much to make these easy pickled cherries. You only need vinegar, water, sugar and a few aromatics and you’ll probably have all them in your kitchen.

Ingredients needed to make cherry pickles.

Cherries

I used sweet black cherries in this recipe, but use whatever ones you happen to grow, buy or pick. You can find more on cherries, including their health benefits in this cherry granola pots recipe. If your cherries are of the sour variety, you may want to add a bit more sugar.

Vinegar

You can use white wine vinegar to make pickled cherries, but I prefer apple cider vinegar. It has a fruitier flavour profile and a milder acidity. It’s also very good for you.

Sugar

Golden granulated sugar or golden caster sugar are the ones I reach for when it comes to making pickles. They’re less refined than ultra processed white sugar and have caramel undertones which enhance most recipes.

Aromatics

Bay leaves are excellent value, especially if you grow your own. They impart a subtle depth of flavour that isn’t obvious, but is noted when missing. Both dried or fresh work well. I added two fresh leaves from the garden.

Thyme complements cherries very nicely, so a sprig or two of fresh thyme is a nice touch. Again, I picked some from the garden.

I also added a clove. I love the sweet warm and woody notes which pair so well with fruit. One is enough though, cloves are powerful little beasts and you don’t want to overwhelm the cherries. The clove is entirely optional.

Chilli gives a gentle but enticing warmth to these pickled cherries. How warm they’ll be will depend on the chilli you use and how much of it you use. I went with a half of one of our frozen rocoto chillies. Incidentally, if you like chilli, it’s a great addition to this recipe for blackcurrant jam.

How Long Do Pickled Cherries Keep?

Pickled cherries will keep for at least six months if stored in a cool, dry and dark cupboard. Once opened, store in the fridge and consume within four weeks.

Word of warning though. The longer you keep them, the more the colour will leach out of the cherries and the paler they will get.

How To Make Easy Pickled Cherries

Pickled cherries has to be one of the easiest recipes out there. You get maximum output for minimum input. Win win!

Pickled cherries, cheese and lettuce on sourdough toast with half an unpitted cherry on the side.

Step 1. Prepare Cherries

Wash the cherries in cold water, then drain them well in a colander or sieve.

Remove the stalks from the cherries. Just pull and they come off easily. If you wish, remove the stones too. A dedicated cherry pitter* is worth having if you cook with cherries on a regular basis. Otherwise use a chopstick or reusable straw to push them out. Either way, be careful as juice tends to squirt out in all directions.

Step 2. Sterilise Jars

Whilst the cherries are draining, thoroughly clean and sterilise your jar or jars along with their lids. This helps prevent any unwanted bacteria or contaminants from affecting the pickling process.

If you’re not sure how to do this, head to my post on how to sterilise glass jars, bottles and associated lids.

A clip top jar filled with fresh cherries.

Place the cherries into the sterilised jar or jars. Try to fill them up as much as you can. Jiggle them around a bit, if they don’t quite fit first go.

Step 3. Prepare Pickling Liquid

Pour the water, vinegar and sugar into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Pickling liquid in a small saucepan.

Add the aromatics. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Pour the boiling liquid over the cherries. Make sure all of the aromatics go in too. Leave to cool slightly for a couple of minutes, then seal the jar.

Cherry pickles in a jar covered in pickling liquid.

Leave to cool completely, then allow to pickle for at least three days, but preferably a week or two. The longer you leave them, the more the flavours will develop. The pickled cherries will keep in a cool, dry, dark place for six months unopened. Once opened store in the fridge and use within four weeks.

Top Tips

Pickling cherries is a flexible and creative process, so don’t hesitate to experiment with flavours and techniques to find your perfect combination.

Swap Spices To Suit

I’ve not used salt or savoury spices in my recipe for easy pickled cherries. This is mostly because it makes the resulting cherries and vinegar more versatile. The pickling liquid works well in sweet as well as savoury recipes.

However, if you prefer something a bit more savoury, then go ahead and use your favourite spices. Try swapping the chilli for peppercorns, use coriander seeds instead of the clove or a cinnamon stick instead of the bay leaves and rosemary instead of thyme. Whatever way you go though, I don’t think it needs salt. The pickles are wonderfully zingy and flavoursome as they are.

Balance The Flavours

Get the balance of sweet and sour notes just right by adjusting the sugar and vinegar ratios to suit your taste preferences. You can slightly increase or decrease the amount of sugar in the pickling liquid to create a sweeter or sourer result.

Save The Liquid From Your Pickle Jar

Make sure you use the amazing pickling liquid and don’t throw it away. It makes a great salad dressing whisked into olive oil. Just think of it as cherry vinegar.

It also works as a delicious marinade for fresh fruit such as strawberries, nectarines and cherries, of course.

Or try adding a spoon or two to water, fizzy or otherwise. Add some ice and you have a refreshing and thirst quenching drink for a hot summer’s day.

Other Pickle Recipes You Might Like

Keep in Touch

Thank you for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this easy recipe for pickled cherries, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do you have any recommendations or advice for making pickles?

Please rate the recipe. If you post pictures of your creations on social media, use the hashtag #tinandthyme so I can see them.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes follow me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram or Pinterest. And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my weekly newsletter. Or why not join the conversation in our Healthy Vegetarian Whole Food Recipes Facebook Group?

If you’d like more cherry recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious and nutritious, of course.

Choclette x

Easy Pickled Cherries

An open clip top jar full of easy pickled cherries.
A bowl of easy homemade pickled cherries with cheese and salad leaves.

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Easy Pickled Cherries

Prepare to get hooked on this easy recipe for pickled cherries. Sweet, sour and totally addictive, cherry pickles create a flavour explosion on the palate. They make a perfect accompaniment to cheese or just eat straight out of the jar as a delightful standalone snack.

Prep Time5 minutes

Cook Time2 minutes

Total Time7 minutes

Course: Jams, Chutneys etc

Cuisine: British

Keyword: cherries, condiment, pickles

Servings: 1 jar

Calories: 530kcal

Author: Choclette @ Tin and Thyme

Ingredients

  • 300 g fresh cherries
  • 150 ml cider vinegar
  • 100 ml water
  • 75 g golden caster sugar (granulated is fine too)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme)
  • 1 clove optional
  • 1 small chilli sliced lengthways (or ½ tsp chilli flakes)

Instructions

  • Wash the cherries in cold water, then drain them well in a colander or sieve.

    300 g fresh cherries

  • Remove the stones if you wish. I don’t. A dedicated cherry pitter is worth having if you cook with cherries on a regular basis. Otherwise use a chopstick or reusable straw to push them out. Either way, be careful as juice tends to squirt out in all directions.

  • Place the cherries into a sterilised 500ml glass jar. Jiggle them around a bit, if they don’t quite fit.

  • Pour the water, vinegar and sugar into a small pan and place over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

    150 ml cider vinegar, 100 ml water, 75 g golden caster sugar

  • Add the bay, thyme, clove, if using and the chilli. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.

    2 bay leaves, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 clove, 1 small chilli

  • Pour the boiling liquid over the cherries. Make sure all of the aromatics go in too. Leave to cool slightly for a few minutes, then seal the jar.

  • Leave to cool completely, then store in a cool dark place for at least three days, but preferably a week or three. Will keep in a cool dark place for four months unopened. Once opened store in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Notes

How many cherries you can fit into you jar very much depends on their size. I got about 40 cherries into my 500 ml clip top jar.It probably doesn’t even take as long as seven minutes to make these cherry pickles, but I didn’t pit my cherries. If you stone yours, it will take a bit longer.If needed, head to this post on how to sterilise glass jars.You’ll find additional tips and info about this recipe in the main body of the post.Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per 500ml jar. They’re approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used. Please refer to my nutrition disclaimer for further information.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 530kcal | Carbohydrates: 129g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 932mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 116g | Vitamin A: 681IU | Vitamin C: 87mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg

Tried this recipe?Leave a comment below letting us know how you got on and do share a photo on Instagram. Tag @choclette8 or use hashtag #tinandthyme.

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