Last winter I was working on a cheese photo shoot, and my business partner, Cara Rank, brought over some props to add to the cheese for the shoot. One of the items was a jar of cherry onion jam she had made and jarred last summer. After the shoot we devoured the subjects of our photos for dinner. I seriously couldn’t believe how good the jam was.
The sweetness of the cherries mixed with the tartness of the cooked onions blended perfectly and was an especially good spread on a cracker with cheese on top. I was hooked. As I scraped the last bit out of the jar, I knew this would be on my summer jarring projects list.
And it is here. By it, I mean cherry season. I live for this fruit, which you can get regionally (they grow well in Oregon, Washington and California) in the summer months. Fresh cherries, that haven’t had to travel from around the world, are amazing. I get a bag every time I go to the store or the farmers market all summer. There used to be a family that brought cherries in from their farm in Oregon to Jackson every week. They parked near a gas station on Broadway, and I used to be a sucker for stopping there a few times a week for a bag or two.
Two weeks ago I bought a very expensive ($15) bag of cherries at Smiths, but this week I have gotten them substantially cheaper at Albertsons.
Because cherries are so good and flavorful on their own, I often just eat them straight as fruit. I also don’t own a cherry pitter but know that you can get a relatively inexpensive one at Belle Cose and probably at Kmart, too.
My goal this summer it to buy a cherry pitter (that actually will happen this week) and start cooking with cherries. They would be good in salads. I like the idea of making a fresh cherry salsa to put on top of grilled chicken, and I am for sure making this cherry onion relish, too.
This relish would be a great accompaniment to a cheese plate. A nice spread for a turkey sandwich and would also been delicious served with grilled chicken and a salad and bread.
I am going to at least quadruple the recipe and jar a few jars of it. It would make a really nice gift to someone special. And if I can, I am going to try to save one for Thanksgiving as I think it would be so delicious with a smoked turkey and a biscuit.
If you have kids, you could encourage them to help you pit the cherries, which, because it is a little time consuming, is the only thing difficult at all about this recipe. If you are really into spice, use a spicy chili like habanero. I think the spice would be a nice addition.
If you are making and using this relish fresh, some basil would be nice folded into the relish when it is done cooking. I would suggest at least doubling this recipe since it is that amazing. It would be a perfect hostess gift and welcome addition to any summer barbeque.