Earlier this summer I wrote about dealing with the cherries from my Bing Cherry tree. I made cherry preserves. I froze cherries. I ate lots and lots of cherries. And I candied cherries – 4 pounds altogether.
Update: Looking for an even easier method to make candied cherries? See my new, updated post, Easy Flavorful Candied Cherries.
When I tell that story most people respond with, “why?” quickly followed by “how do you do that!” Leave it to me to choose one of the more obscure food preserving projects.
The simple answer is, I love fruitcake. Now before you click away from this post, hold on! If you’ve never had homemade fruitcake you don’t really know what fruitcake is. What it isn’t – that heavy, brick-like stuff you can find in every grocery store around the holidays. Homemade fruitcake is a real treat. Just think about it, a combination of tart and sweet dried fruits, lots of your favorite nuts like pecans and hazelnuts, all soaked in brandy or rum. Sounds good! Little known fact here in the U.S. – Prince William and his bride Kate chose a fruitcake wedding cake. But I digress.
The only candied fruit I use when making fruitcake is candied cherries. But I don’t like that neon scarlet color and the artificial flavorings added to the commercially prepared kind. So this year I made my own, and you can too. It’s a pretty easy process, but does take a while to complete. I used the basic recipe found on the Ochef site, only I doubled the recipe and made 2 pounds at a time.
The process does get a bit messy, so make sure you use a large pot to heat the syrup and a large bowl to soak the fruit.
By the time the fruit is ready to soak in the syrup for the recommended 10+ days, the syrup will become crusty with the sugar and almost solid. Cover and let it sit. I did have to reheat the whole combination before I could remove the cherries for their final drying. Set the left over syrup aside to use for other projects (check back for some my recipes coming soon!).
There, now you have real candied cherries, without all the artificial additives, ready for this winter’s fruitcake or other baked goods. What do you do with candied cherries?
I now this is an old post, but wondered if you have the recipe for the cherries. The link does not work. Thank you, Claire
Claire, please try the link again as it seems to be working. Must have been a temporary bug! Also, check out the links in the recipe tab above. And please let me know if you continue to have trouble.
I’m a Canadian from Ontario, currently living in Ohio in the USA. I’m just starting out to make fruitcake from my mother-in-law’s “Christmas Cake” recipe, so I’m delighted to find your ideas for homemade ingredients.
In fact, her recipe is adapted from the one her mother used when Grandma made the cake for her daughter’s wedding. Since at least the 1940s, which is as far back as my personal friends and family references go on this point, “wedding cake” and “Christmas Cake” have always been fruitcake – no exceptions I’ve ever heard of.
At the first American wedding I attended, the wedding cake was ordinary yellow cake. Culture Shock! I thought it was just because of allergies or something, but every wedding since has had plain cake, sometimes white or yellow, sometimes chocolate or marbled.
Mary Ann, many years ago, when I was a child, groom’s cake was a date and nut cake. At least it was in eastern Maine, a place also heavily influenced by English customs. I think groom’s cake has fallen out of favor though. Hmm.
Anyway, glad you are carrying on the fruitcake tradition. I also have a post for making your own Candied Citron and Quince that you might be interested in; https://www.seedtopantry.com/2014/11/11/candied-citron-and-candied-quince/.
If you would like to share a photo of your fruitcake please let me know; either here or through our contact form (under About). Take care.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about candied cherries.
I had always assumed that candied cherries made with fresh tart cherries would have a decent cherry flavor. Your comment that even homemade they mostly just taste sweet was at the same time disapointing and reassuring. I have been seeking candied cherries from many sources for years. I had finally concluded that if they didn’t taste like cardboard they would at least be pretty. I too use mostly dried fruit. My cakes were especially prized when I lived in northern California and had access to wonderful freshly dried fruits such as pluots, peaches and apricots. Not to mention flame grapes. Have you ever made or found any candied or glaced cherries that had any decent fruit flavor?
Cindy, your cakes sound wonderful. No, I have not had any luck with a tasty candied cherry – either purchased or homemade. Although I do have some ideas for next cherry season, we’ll see. I did recently make some very good tasting candied citron and will soon be posting the process.
Thanks for your reply. I’ll be looking for your suggestions in the future.
Please, a question before I get started. I too find the right fruitcake to be a holiday delicacy, so I’ve decided to make a delicious farm to pantry cake this year. I figured out the citron – I added a bit of lime oil and it tastes like life savers , my problem is in amping up the flavor of the cherries and maintaining mouth feel. I have to process them now though – so, add almond extract or no? I also thought of processing with last year’s dried sweets which are very intense in flavor. Your thoughts?
Jon, adding almond extract sounds like a great idea to me. As you noticed, candied cherries (either commercial or homemade) have little flavor other than “sweet.” On the other hand, forgetting the candied cherries entirely and making the cakes out of dried cherries would be delicious too. You may notice that I use mostly dried fruit and very little candied fruit in my fruitcake recipes https://www.seedtopantry.com/2012/12/09/how-to-make-spiced-orange-fruitcake-step-by-step/
Either way, good luck with your cakes. I am sure they will be delicious.
Do you have the recipe for your process written up anywhere? I really want to make these!
Sorry, I don’t have it written down but did use this process http://www.ochef.com/4.htm. Good luck with your project.
A fruit cake is the traditional choice for a wedding cake here in the UK, although things are changing somewhat and it’s now not uncommon to chose something else if you want to 🙂
Emma, thanks for filling us in on traditions from the other side of the pond! I am sorry to hear that things are changing a bit though. The Anglophile in my loves the idea of a fruitcake wedding cake. Thanks for stopping by! Renee