I have really been working out the kinks with this brandied cherry thing. Real brandied cherries are so much better than the day-glo maraschino cherries you can buy at the grocery store, and a Manhattan is my favorite cocktail. Perfect way to preserve summer's glory, right? Not so easy, perhaps.
First I tried just packing the cherries in the jar with a solution of equal parts brandy and sugar. I thought this was a sure thing, because there are lots of recipes like this online, and I figured the brandy would definitely preserve them, so that's the recipe I gave on the Edible Santa Fe website. They were delicious after a few days, but a few weeks later, they are kind of soft and actually fermenting a little. I don't think this is bad, just surprising.
I also tried one with equal parts brandy, water and sugar. There are lots of recipes like this out there too - most just say to pack the raw cherries in this solution and you should be all set. I noticed that these started fermenting within a few days, but according to Leslie Land, that's a good thing. I just discovered her fabulous blog - she has been a New York Times garden columnist and a chef at Chez Panisse, so I'd guess her advice is pretty reliable! Finally I settled on following her recipe pretty closely, to avoid any further mishaps. I made 9 half-pints, some with rum, some with Jack Daniels, because I ran out of brandy.