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Cheers! A better use for those dumped cherries

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen mixes a Manhattan. She'll use brandied cherries she made at home. Recipes below.

There was outrage over reports that a farmer near Traverse City was required to dump tart cherries. You can read about the reasons here and listen to a Stateside interview with Bridge Magazine reporter Ron French about dumping cherries when it happened in 2014 here.

Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings says she, like a lot of people, was appalled. She says she knows exactly what to do with the fruit: 

“I like to make brandied cherries to use in cocktails,” she said, adding, “Brandied cherries are way more delicious than those artificially flavored and colored things we call maraschino cherries and they really make cocktails amazing.”

Coxen says the brandied cherries are pretty easy to make. Here’s the recipe:

Spiced Brandied Cherries 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 2 whole cloves 1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick 4 cardamom pods 1 cup brandy (or other spirit of your choice - bourbon would be nice) 1 quart cherries (Sour/tart are better than sweet, but both will work. You don't have to pit them if you don't want to - the pits will add some nice flavor to the finished cherries - but be sure to warn people when serving!) In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and spices. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, portion cherries into clean jars. Add brandy to spiced syrup and pour mixture over cherries. Let cool, then store mixture in a jar in refrigerator for at least 2 days before eating, and they can be used up to several months.

Coxen says tart cherries are best for brandied cherries, but just about any kind of cherry can be used.

THE drink that comes to mind when thinking of a cherry garnish is a Manhattan. While a Manhattan is not particularly a summer drink (but enjoyed in dark paneled bars year ‘round anyway), Coxen says the brandied cherries will be ready when the first chill of fall visits Michigan.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio

For the cocktail, Coxen used the classic recipe:

Manhattan 2 oz rye (we used Detroit City Distillery's Homgrown Rye) 1 oz sweet vermouth 2 dashes angostura bitters Garnish: brandied cherry Combine all ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Stir, strain into a cocktail glass for an "up" drink or ice-filled rocks glass if preferred. Garnish.


Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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