Thursday, July 31, 2014

Great-Aunt Pooch's Cherry Bounce

I sat down last night with a quart of cherries and made them into something tasty... but I have to wait for three months before they're really ready to eat!  I made cherry bounce, an old-fashioned Wisconsin tradition that I'm finding not many people know about.  And I'm aiming to change that, at least in our group of friends.  Gotta start small!   

Cherry bounce is sour cherries soaked in booze, typically whiskey, bourbon, or brandy.  I went full-on "Sconnie" on this and used Korbel brandy, the number one brandy in the state.  (Read about brandy being super-popular in Wisconsin but nobody seems to know why.)  I used brandy so we could use it to make brandy old-fashioneds, plus I don't like whiskey or bourbon. 

Even though cherry bounce is a simple recipe — cherries, booze, and sugar, it requires a lot of patience to wait until they're fully marinated.  It's definitely a gamble. I have no idea what I'm doing since I've never made anything like this before and only tried it at the Tip Top Tavern this weekend (they had a homemade cherry brandy old-fashioned as their drink special, yespleasethankyou!). I hope this works out.  Oh, and you don't refrigerate it, you just throw the cherries in a jar with a bunch of booze and sugar, which are both preservatives, so it ends up that I'm making pickled cherries! Who knew!


Island of Consumption Door County Cherry Bounce 

The great-aunt Pooch in the title isn't my great-aunt, nobody in my family made anything as cool as this.  The recipe I followed described great-aunt Pooch, so I borrowed it because I thought it gave the aura of a time-tested recipe passed down through generations. 

I picked up the sour cherries at our Northside farmers' market on Sunday, the cherries come from Sturgeon Bay (way up north).  I was a little hesitant about the unknown sour cherries and really wanted to use the yummy sweet cherries we always get, but the guy at the stand reminded me that cherry bounce is typically made with sour cherries, so I conceded and went the traditional route.  I had never had a sour cherry, they're not particularly sour, just not as sweet as the big dark Bings.  The sour ones are definitely smaller though.
Difference between a sour Montmorency cherry (left) and a sweet Bing cherry. 
I used a toothpick to poke a couple holes in each cherry and then drop it into one of two freshly-washed big quart jars. It took 20 minutes to work through all of those cherries, but it was meditative. I had to be careful though, I was afraid I'd poke my fingers by mistake since the cherries were so small. As I did it I was kind of questioning why I was putting holes in them, but I realized that there needed to be a symbiotic flavor exchange while they marinated for three months, the brandy needs to get into the cherry and the cherry flavor needs to get out into the brandy.

Oh yeah, and the cherries aren't pitted, the recipe specifically said "unpitted cherries", so they're going to be a bit dangerous to eat.  There are dishes made with unpitted cherries because the pits supposedly add extra flavor, so I went along with it based on that concept.
Armed with a toothpick to poke holes. 
I added 1/3 cup sugar to each jar since I read that brandy is likely sweeter than whiskey.  It might not be enough sugar, but we can always add more later. 
Adding sugar with my canning funnel.
Thanks for the funnel, Mom!
Then I topped off both jars with most of a bottle of Korbel brandy and added a broken cinnamon stick to one jar for some flavor variety. I gently shook them a few times to mix in the sugar, but it was slow to dissolve.  I'll probably  I finished off by making my standard fancy-scmancy kitchen labels with masking tape and a marker. Classy! 
A jar of regular and a jar of cinnamon.
Then I put both jars up out of the way on the top shelf of the pantry to rest. Sleep my babies, I'll see you in three months!

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!