When cherry season rolls around, I tend to overdo it at the Farmers’ Market. One box turns into three, and while I have the best intentions of eating them all, that rarely happens. So, when I was looking for a way to use some of this year’s excess, I stumbled upon this homemade syrup recipe from The Kitchn. As the title says, the best part about it is that there is no pitting required! Save for removing the stems, you can throw your cherries in whole with some sugar, and after a few minutes and a pass through a strainer, you’ll have a beautiful deep, dark liquid to use in a number of ways. I tweaked the ingredient list here by adding a drop of almond extract, and by swapping coconut sugar in for white to give the syrup a richer flavor.
A jar of this will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, so feel free to go crazy adding it to everything…cocktails, ice cream, breakfast fare (French toast, pancakes and waffles would all be good choices!). I decided to make an egg cream with it, ala my Great Uncle Stanley from Brooklyn – who was infamous for whipping these up! Egg creams are traditionally made with milk (I used almond, but regular milk, cashew, coconut, soy, etc. will all work.), seltzer and either chocolate or vanilla syrup, but when you have a cherry version hanging around, why use anything else!?!
- For the Syrup:
- 1 pound fresh cherries, with stems removed (about 3 cups)
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- For the Cherry Almond Egg Cream:
- Cherry syrup
- Almond milk
- Seltzer (soda water)
- To make the syrup: Place the cherries and the sugar in a saucepan, set over medium heat. Stir to coat the cherries with the sugar, and with the back of a fork, or a potato masher, begin pressing on the cherries to extract their juice. Continue to do so as the cherries warm up (The warmer they get, the easier they'll be to mash!). Bring the mixture to a simmer, and continue to cook for approximately 10-15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the cherries are starting to break down. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, into a medium-size bowl. Press down on the solids, making sure you get all of the juice out. Discard the pits and cherry remnants (Or remove the pits and use the cherries in a smoothie!). Store the syrup in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to two weeks.
- To make the egg creams: Place the cherry syrup and the almond milk in a cold glass. Stir to combine. Top with seltzer. Enjoy! (I had a 9-ounce glass, so I used ⅛ cup (2 tablespoons) of cherry syrup to ¼ cup milk, and topped with seltzer; a 1:2 ratio of syrup to milk. You can feel free to mix that up though and add as little or as much of any ingredient as you like!)
A drop or two of rose water (A little goes a long way!) is also a nice touch for more depth of flavor!