Friday, June 12, 2015

Cherries in Claret, A Charles County, Maryland Recipe

Cherries in Claret
This recipe comes from Araby, an historic home that was built in Charles County, Maryland in the middle of the 18th century and was the home of William and Sarah Eilbeck. While I am not sure if George Washington ever slept there, he did record many visits there. However, it was another George, as in Mason (father of the Bill of Rights), who had the larger claim on the property because he married the owners' daughter, Anne. 

This recipe for Cherries in Claret was printed in an Annapolis, Maryland cookbook in 1963 and is attributed to Araby. The recipe has no specific date; however, its form and ingredients are reminiscent of recipes from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Source: Maryland's Way, The Hammond Harwood House Cook Book,
by Mrs. Lewis R. Andrews and Mrs. J. Reaney Kelly, published in 1963.
Modern Recipe Adaptation
You can follow the recipe as written using the photos below as a step-by-step guide. I used modern bing cherries because that is what is available to most people in the 21st century; however, you can try other varieties:

1. Wash the cherries. Note: a quart of cherries is 4 cups.

2. Cut the stems down about half-way to make them look neat and tidy, 
and to give you an easy way to pick up each cherry.
3. To the cherries. add the wine (any fruity red wine will 
do), sugar, and cracked cinnamon stick. Cook on medium
heat for about 10 minutes. Use a pan with a heavy bottom
to prevent scorching the sugar.

4. Use a slatted spoon to remove the cherries from the pan of hot liquid. While the cherries cool, add the red currant jelly to the liquid left in the pan. Whisk it in and cook for just about one more minute. Then remove from heat.
Red Currant Jelly
5. Pour the hot liquid into a measuring cup, being sure to strain out
the cinnamon sticks and any stray cherry stems floating in it.

6. Try to stand the cherries up so that the stems are visible and easy to reach.
Pour the hot, sweet liquid over them. Allow this to cool off to room temperature and then cool in the refrigerator.

Serve cold with lady fingers, sponge cake, angel food cake, with ice cream, or in a parfait!

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