Cherry Bounce, Part 2

Yesterday I started making Cherry Bounce by soaking our foraged chokecherries in water overnight. Now that they are done soaking, it's time to finish mixing up our ingredients for this colonial-era cordial. We're ready to move on.

Step three: Drain the chokecherries, reserving 1 cup of the soaking liquid:


As you can see, what was plain water yesterday is now a lovely cherry red color. It doesn't taste like much of anything yet, but it sure is pretty.

Step four: Add the reserved liquid plus 2 cups of sugar to the chokecherries:


Because we are in the height of pickling season, I didn't have an available container large enough for a quart of chokecherries plus a quart of rum and all that sugar. Instead, I used four, wide-mouth, quart-sized mason jars, which meant I had to further divide down the recipe to have tiny proportions of the ingredients. This is a really easy way to do it, though, and is perfect if you only have a small amount of fruit or just want to give it a try before committing to a huge batch. If you're interested in this method, each mason jar gets 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chokecherries, 1/4 cup of reserved soaking liquid, and 1/2 cup sugar. 

Step five: Add 1 quart of rum (that's 1 cup to each mason jar, if you're doing it that way):


It's worth pausing here to consider the rum. The original recipe that I am using suggests a light rum to allow the cherry flavor to shine through, but I found myself wondering what a real old-style New England rum would have tasted like. Although Newburyport's most famous distillery is no longer in business, there is a new rum-maker in nearby Ipswich that is actively working to revive this Massachusetts tradition. Turkey Shore Distilleries makes Old Ipswich Rum, which I bought over the hill at Leary's:


The name and the bottle are both purposefully reminiscent of Caldwell's Rum ("Old Newburyport"), so it seemed like the right choice. Although they also make an amber "Tavern Style" rum, which might have been the more authentically-flavored choice, I went with the "White Cap" for a lighter flavor in combination with the fruit. 

Step six: Cap it and shake it several times a day for the next 10 days:


The shaking should keep the sugar distributed until it eventually dissolves, and each time I do it, the color gets a little darker. After the first 10 days, it doesn't need so much shaking any more--just once in a while over the next three months until it's ready. By then, all of the flavors of the cherries (and the almond essence of their pits) should be fully absorbed into the rum. I have these in a very dark corner of the kitchen, but will probably move them to the (even darker) basement after the first 10-day period. 

This last step won't be done until the end of November--just in time to strain and bottle the cordial up for the holidays, which is when Cherry Bounce was traditionally enjoyed. For now, we shake and we wait.

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