Cheries in Conserve (Preserved Cherries)

Take suger and Cheries a like Quantity put as much water to yor suger as will wet yt, and boyle yt till yt allmost come to suger again, then stone yor cherries and put them in and two every pound of them put 3 spoonfulls of the Juice of Red Respice wth them let them boyle so fast that the sirop may boyle upp above the Cheries till they are boyled enough, sciminge of yt as the scum ariseth, as soone as you take them of the fier put them presently into a dish of either silver or earth there let them stand until they bee almost cold then put them upp. (Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book)

Take equal quantities of sugar and cherries. Put as much water to your sugar as will wet it, and boile it until it almost come to sugar again, then stone your cherries and put them in. To every pound of cherries put 3 spoonfuls of the juice of raspberries. Let them boil so fast that the syrup may boil up above the cherries until they are boiled enough, skimming off the scum as it rises. As soon as you take them off the fire put them into a dish of either silver or earth. There let them stand until they be almost cold then put them up.

Ingredients

450g cherries, stoned 40mL raspberry juice
450g fine sugar approx. 60mL

Method

water

  1. Put the sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and add just enough water to turn the sugar into a stiff paste; how much water will depend on how hot and humid the day is.
  2. Over a low heat, dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has completely dissolved to syrup, stop stirring, and allow the syrup to reach 114ᵒ (soft ball stage).
  3. Put the cherries and raspberry juice in the syrup and return to the boil. Keep watching until the syrup boils up over the cherries, as described in Lady Fettiplace’s recipe. This is actually when the syrup gets to around 114ᵒ (soft ball stage) again.

    IMAG0269

  4. Allow to cool before serving or storing in a sealed, sterilised jar.

Notes

  • Raspberry juice has quite a tart flavour, and it was probably added to cut through the extreme sweetness. However, it’s quite hard to get hold of proper raspberry juice unless you juice them yourself. Do not add raspberry cordial instead; it is too sweet and actually doesn’t taste of raspberry juice. If you can’t get hold of proper raspberry juice, use rosewater instead as a period appropriate substitute.
  • Use good quality sugar to make this recipe. Cheap sugar can result in the syrup having an unpleasant, grainy texture.
  • Feasts in the Tudor and Stuart periods ended with a banquet course, a gathering of the most favoured or important guests, where they were served a range of sugary confections. A dish like this would have been considered a wet sucket, and served in its syrup. The cherries would have been eaten by spearing them with the end of a spoon.

Cherries in preserve

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Spurling, Hilary (2011). Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book

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