Makes 4 pints
Hyssop is one of my favorite herbs in the garden, with its spikes of lovely blue flowers that attract moths and butterflies. Less familiar in the kitchen, its slightly bitter, minty flavor is a taste that’s worth the effort to acquire. Tarragon is another herb that pairs effectively with cherries.
• 2 pounds large sweet or sour cherries
• 12 four-inch sprigs fresh hyssop
• 1 quart red wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup honey
• 4 teaspoons pickling salt
1. Wash and dry the cherries thoroughly, discarding any soft or blemished ones. Trim stems to 1/2 inch and prick each cherry with a toothpick or needle.
2. Prepare the jars, lids, and boiling-water bath. Put three sprigs of hyssop into each hot, dry jar. Fill the jars with cherries, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a nonreactive pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the solution into the jars, just covering the cherries. Wipe the rims with a clean towel and attach the lids securely.
3. Place the jars in the boiling-water bath, and when the water returns to a boil, process for 15 minutes. Remove the jars, cool, label, and store.
(Adapted from Herbal Vinegar.)
Maggie Oster writes extensively about herbs, food, gardening, cooking, landscape design, flowers, and crafts. Her books include Recipes from an American Herb Garden (New York: Macmillan, 1993) and Herbal Vinegar (Pownal, Vermont: Storey Communications, 1994). When she’s not on the road, she’s in her garden or kitchen in Indiana or Kentucky.
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