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It’s Cherry Season! Spicy Cherry Sauce

Cherries and Summer are interchangeable words. They remind us that Christmas is on the way and that there are plenty of long, hot, lazy days ahead to enjoy these sweet, juicy treats.  I have fond memories of Summer 2010 in France, buying a kilo of cherries from the front door of a local and heading back to camp to enjoy them with a nice gooey cheese and baguette.  I also experienced a strange homesick sensation, eating cherries in summer but in the middle of the year rather than at Christmas.  This year I’m at the right end of the planet and all the stars have realigned.

Bowl of washed red cherries

Last week, when I was in Canberra, I came across a bit of a bargain at the local supermarket. Cherries were $8 a kilo, which is half the price they currently are at the markets and supermarkets in Qld. The lower price can be put down to the fact that the cherries had come from the nearby town of Young, cherry capital of Australia.  They were a little on the small side but every single one of the was perfect – no blemishes, no squashed or over ripe fruit. Just perfect.  So, I did what every self respecting citizen would do. I bought a kilo, had a few for breakfast the next morning and transported them back across the border on my flight home the same day.

After a few more morning teas, it was time to get serious with the remainder. With lots of Christmas ham, turkey and perhaps even duck coming up, I decided to make a Spicy Cherry Sauce to serve cold alongside the cold meat.  The Asian flavours give a modern twist and the spiciness helps to cut through any fattiness in the meat.  Also nice with a strong cheddar, salad leaves and fresh, crusty bread.

Spicy Cherry Sauce
Bowl of spicy cherry sauce in with silver ladle sitting on top
  • 500g cherries, stoned and halved
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 7cm fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chilli paste*
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 5 coriander seeds lightly crushed, 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tbsp extra vinegar


  1. Place cherries, 1st lot of vinegar, sugar, ginger and chilli in a medium saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water.
  2. Put spices in a piece of muslin, calico or clean stocking and tie off with kitchen string. Place spices in saucepan with cherries.
  3. Put saucepan on low heat (no lid) and gently warm to allow cherry juices to start running.
  4. Place lid on saucepan and gently simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a dribble of water if the mixture starts to stick or dry out.
  5. Add extra 1/2 tsp of vinegar in last 5 minutes of cooking.
  6. After 40 – 45 minutes, take cherries from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Mixture should be slightly syrupy with cherries only slightly cooked down. Remove spices and discard.
  7. If serving that day, place in covered bowl in fridge to chill.
  8. If serving at a later date, place sauce into sterilised jar whilst sauce is still hot, seal and allow to cool before placing jar in fridge.

– *Gourmet Garden or John West style chopped chillis are fine for this. No need for fresh chillis if you don’t have any.
– The ginger makes this sauce quite spicy so you may wish to cut this back.
– Wear gloves when you are pitting the cherries otherwise your hands will be stained with purple juice for days.

Cut glass crystal bowl with spicy cherry sauce and a silver ladle


5 comments… add one
  • Tanya December 4, 2011, 5:44 am

    That looks great! I think it would go well with the nut roast I'm looking at doing….it needs something sharp and sweet to cut through the denseness of the nut texture and taste. A dollop on Brie would be perfect as well! TS

  • Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things December 4, 2011, 2:06 pm

    Yum, love cherries and love this post. Thank you for sharing!

  • fridaysfivecents December 6, 2011, 2:31 pm

    This looks delicious! I don't know why but I always thought I hated cherries, until I took the plunge and tried one the other day…. I can't believe what I have been missing all these years!

  • sherry from sherryspickings December 12, 2014, 2:40 pm

    this looks great. i am lazy at xmas and just use frozen cherries to make relish on xmas morning.:) I used to make it with frozen cranberries but they are damn hard to find these days!.

    • Fiona Ryan December 13, 2014, 12:35 pm

      I know what you mean Sherry. I had a devil of a time trying to make my Danish Christmas Kringle without proper cranberries. Give this a goes with frozen cherries.

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