Tuesday, September 20, 2011


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Cherries have a very short growing season, with June being the peak season in North America. Cherries are grown in several regions of this country, but seventy percent of the cherries produced in the U.S. come from four states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.

Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, Department of Nutritional Sciences, and Chieri Kubota, PhD, Department of Plant Sciences, at the University of Arizona wrote an article on the health benefits of cherries for the National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation.

They tell us that “Sweet cherries have several cancer-preventive components including fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids and anthocyanins.” Anthocyanins are the red pigment in berries. Fruits that are rich in anthocyanins include: blueberry, cranberry, bilberry, black raspberry, red raspberry, blackberry, black currant, Concord grape and cherries.

The article also states that cherries “are considered a good source of dietary potassium, with approximately 260 mg potassium for every cup of fresh cherries consumed (USDA MyPyramid nutrient data analysis program).” I guess bananas aren't the world's only perfect fruit.

OK, enough biology for the day, what is important is that such a delicious snack is actually good for you too. While I like to snack on whole, fresh cherries I also like to preserve them as a compote.

Compote is a dessert originating from 17th century France made of whole or pieces of fruit preserved in syrup. The fruit is gently cooked in water or spirits with sugar and spices. The compote is then served either warm or chilled arranged in a large fruit bowl or single-serve bowl compote dishes.

The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard is one of my favorite reference books when it comes to canning and preserving.  Their recipe for Cherry Compote calls for sugar, corn starch and a splash of kirsh. I skipped the corn starch and kirsh and went with red wine and honey, which leaves my version a little tarter and runnier, but I like it that way.  It is still delicious over pound cake, ice cream, or even cooked down for serving with duck or goose.

I used black cherries in this batch but any sweet or sour cherry will do, and of course a cherry pitter makes the whole process go more quickly. Lemon juice adds a bit of acidity, as well as flavor, and allows for finishing in a hot water bath. As always use clean sterile jars, and for this recipe make sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace before processing.



Cup + 2 Tablespoons Dry Red Wine

1/4 Cup Honey (more or less to taste)

2 teaspoons Lemon Juice

4 Cups fresh pitted Cherries cut in half


Place Wine, Honey and Lemon Juice in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to allow ingredients to blend. Gently boil for several minutes allowing juice to reduce slightly.  Boil for another fifteen minutes stirring occasionally.

At this point, if you decide you'd like your syrup a bit thicker, stir together 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch and 1 Tablespoon of water; stir into syrup. Gently boil for another minute while syrup thickens. Remove from heat.

Remove hot, sterile jars from dishwasher or canner. Pack cherries into jars ( I usually end up with about two pints).  Pour syrup over cherries.  

Process 25 minutes for 1/2 pint jars or 40 minutes for pint jars. Store in pantry for up to one year.  Refrigerate after opening.

Hot Water Bath or Pressure Canning


  1. So compotes weren't originally meant to be served alongside meat, but on their own? Like a palate cleanser, maybe? Very interesting.

    I love this cherry compote. Cherries are one of my favorite fruit and I do always lament the short season. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  2. Sounds delicious! I love cherries and didn't know there were so many health benefits! Bonus!