Cherry Bounce — MTM

Posted by DmentD | Recipes | Sunday 9 September 2001 12:00 am

3 LB (~8 C) fresh cherries, rinsed, pitted and stems removed
1⅓ cup granulated sugar
Zest (peel, no pith) of 3 lemons
93 OZ (2.75 L) bourbon or brandy (enough to fill)

– Cherry pitter
– 1 GAL glass container, spillproof


Wash the glass container thoroughly and sterilize with a mild bleach solution (1 TSP bleach in 1 GAL water).

Rinse, de-stem and pit the cherries (bing cherries are readily available at the beginning of July), then place in the glass container.  Strip the zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler so it comes off in long strips for easy removal later, then add to the container.  Add the sugar.

Pour your alcohol of choice into the container to fill as close to the top as you can without overflowing.  Typically, you will use one full 1.75 liter bottle and most of a 1 liter bottle (a little larger than a 'fifth') of alcohol.  Seal the container and shake it gently to distribute the alcohol and begin dissolving the sugar.  This will also dislocate any air that may be trapped inside the cherries which will allow you to top off the container with more alcohol.  You can save the bottles and refill them with the infused mixture.

Store the container in a dark, cool place and shake it every few days until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Allow the mixture to infuse for a minimum of two to three months, and as long as six months (the longer the infusion, the stronger the flavors).

Strain the cherries out using a micro-screen strainer or pour it through a coffee filter.  Discard the lemon zest.  If you saved the bottles, or chose to use new ones, make sure they have been thoroughly cleaned then sterilized using the same mild bleach solution used for the gallon container.  Pour in the filtered cherry bounce and seal tightly — will yield approximately 3 liters of bounce.  Enjoy.  The bounce does improve slightly with age.

The cherries will have absorbed the flavor of the alcohol, and consequently are very tasty with some further preparation.  Fill cleaned and sterilized pint jars with the cherries and add 2 TBSP of sugar to each — will yield approximately 3½ pints of cherries.  Top the jars with fresh alcohol of the type used for the bounce.  Seal the jars and shake throughly until the sugar dissolves.  Allow the cherries to sit for at least 1 week, although they will get better the longer they sit.  They are delicious served on ice-cream (as one of many examples).

Cherry Bounce is a traditional Southern cordial, and bourbon is typically the alcohol used.  Brandy will yield a sweeter drink, but bourbon makes for a sharper flavor.

Also, traditionally (yes, more tradition) the cherries that were used to make cherry bounce, in Louisiana at least, were from trees that grew profusely in people's yards and in the wild — sometimes referred to as "black cherry" trees.  In the spring, there are clusters of cobwebby flowers.  Once the flowers disappear, the green fruit — the size of small peas — turn to purplish black.  When they reach this stage, the cherries are picked to make cherry bounce.  They are bitter and astringent, and not very appetizing to eat in and of themselves, but when used for bounce they impart a powerfully strong cherry flavor, and the sourness is tempered by the bourbon and the sugar used in the mix.

One of the earliest memories I have of my father is the humongous bottle he used to make bounce.  It was mounted to a stand that allowed it to tip like a teeter-totter on a swivel.  In hindsight it likely wasn't more than a 1.75 liter bottle… but I was a kid and it looked huge at the time.  We had two wild black-cherry trees in our yard, and he would make the bounce from the fruit gathered from those.

Another variation on cherry bounce that dates back to the mid-1900's and earlier involves fermenting the fruit before blending it with an alcohol.  In a three to five GAL crock, alternate layers of white sugar and washed, dried, de-stemmed cherries, with the tops of the cherries visible after each layer of sugar.  Continue this until you have filled the crock up to 12" deep.  Cover the crock with a cheesecloth and store in a dry, dark place for about six weeks.  You will end up with a concoction that is a thick, black, syrupy combination of sugar, cherry skins and pits.  Strain this formula through cheesecloth by forming a ball of about six to eight inches, twisting it to force the liquid into a container.  Do not to twist too tight at the end of each strain, so as not to introduce the bitterness of the pulp and pits into the liquid.  Blend the results with an inexpensive light, dry white wine (to taste), and store in tightly closed containers.


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