RECIPE: How to Make Cherry Cola

Sure, you could eat those drupes raw or toss them in a pie, but we challenge you to do something a little less traditional by making this recipe.

A couple of weeks ago, we shared a recipe for blackened fish tacos from Diane Yen’s A Simple Feast: A Year of Stories and Recipes to Savor and Share — and our love affair with the book is still going strong.

As we previously wrote, Diane Yen “leads The Jewels of New York: a culinary studio that ‘combines a love of cooking with the beauty of everyday things’ via her food styling, photography, menu consulting and special event catering. Now author, her book blooms; beginning with autumn, it follows New York’s seasons with simple and playful takes on elegant tastes.”

Now that cherries have arrived, we wanted to seize the opportunity to share one more of Yen’s recipes that celebrates the fruit’s delicious simplicity while allowing us to indulge in everything that can be wonderful about soda.

Sure, you could eat those drupes raw or toss them in a pie, but we challenge you to do something a little less traditional by making this recipe:

Cherry cola

Makes about 3 1/2 cups cherry syrup, for 14 servings of soda

Special equipment: cheesecloth

2 1/2 cups water
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 star anise pod
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
One 2-inch knob ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon citric acid (found in the baking aisle of grocery stores or health food stores)
1 1/2 pounds fresh cherries, stems removed, cut in half, and pitted
2 cups superfine sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Seltzer for topping

To make the cherry syrup:
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, star anise, lavender, ginger and citric acid. Tie the cherries up in the cheesecloth and submerge them in the liquid. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the cherries soften and their juices are released and the syrup is deep red in color.

In a large bowl combine the sugars. Place a fine sieve over the bowl, remove the cherries from the saucepan, and place them in the sieve. Using a wooden spoon, press any extra syrup or cherry liquid from the bundle. Reserve the cooked cherries to use as a topping for desserts. Strain the rest of syrup from saucepan through the sieve and into the bowl. Discard the spices and stir the syrup until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely, then transfer to a jar, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. The finished syrup can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To make the cherry cola:
Fill a glass with ice; pour in 1/4 cup cherry syrup and top with about 1 cup seltzer water, stir, and top with a fresh cherry.

Note: The cooked cherries can be stored covered in a glass jar and kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They are great spooned over plain yogurt for breakfast or as an accompaniment to ice cream.

From A Simple Feast by Diana Yen, © 2014 by the Jewels of New York Group, LLC. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.

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Ariel Lauren Wilson

Lauren is the editor-in-chief of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn.