My favorite fruit is cherries. Until recently I only enjoyed them fresh. As good as cherries are, getting rid of the pit can be a time consuming and messing adventure. That was until I was given a cherry pitter gadget for father’s day. It’s so easy to de-pit a cherry now I’m making all kinds of toppings with cherries. One of the best is grilling cherries with balsamic vinegar to make a sweet and sour topping for ice cream or other desserts.
If I can avoid it during the summer I try to cook as much with the outdoor grill or barbecue so as not to heat up the house. While I have cooked cherries on the stove top, I knew that adding balsamic vinegar into the mix would infuse the entire house with the aroma of vinegar. I had heard about combining cherries and balsamic vinegar on some radio show but I did not catch the whole recipe. So I decided to improvise to see if I could create the sweet and sour taste the foody radio person was talking about.
Sweet And Sour Cherry And Balsamic Vinegar Grilling Recipe
I found it is all rather simple and quick, if you have a cherry pitter, to prepare the cherries for grilling. Well, you really aren’t grilling the cherries per se. You don’t put each little cherry half on the grill. Rather, the grill or barbecue is the heat source to slowly simmer the cherries in the balsamic vinegar. It’s pretty effective and you don’t heat-up or smell-up the house in the process. (Picture gallery of preparation below)
The final product is firm cherries with a concentrated sweetness because of the reduction process of the heat combined with a slight sour ir tangy note from the balsamic vinegar. I have put the cherry-vinegar combo over ice cream, crème fraiche, low fat ricotta cheese, and vanilla yogurt.
De-Pit The Cherries
I start with about a half pound of Bing cherries, but I’m sure you could use Rainier. Then you have to de-pit the cherries. I have actually used a knife to cut the little cherries in half and then popped out the pit, but this is really time consuming. Then I received the OXO Cherry Pitter gadget and man is that fast. (It also works on olives and I’ll try it on those this fall.) Even though there is splash shield on the de-pitter, make sure to wear an apron or old clothes. That cherry pit comes blasting out of the pitter and can splash really dark, stain producing, cherry juice.
Add Balsamic Vinegar
Once I have the cherries pitted I cut them in half. Usually you will find a pit or two still inside a cherry. Make sure to get those out so no one bites down on it during dessert. I then pour in 1/3 to ½ cup of balsamic vinegar into the bowl with the pitted and halved cherries. I let this stew for a while as I get the grill heated up.
I pour the cherry and balsamic vinegar mixture into a foil lined grilling pan normally used for vegetables. There is probably a better BBQ pan or pot that would work equally as well. I’m just cheap and don’t want to spend too much on grilling tools.
Simmer On the Grill
I place the grilling pan with cherry-balsamic mixture right onto the grill and close the lid. Since all I want to do is simmer the mixture, I have my grill on low. This provides a temperature of about 400 degrees, which seems like a good temp for simmering, when the lid is closed. Because there are some hot spots in the BBQ because of the propane flames, I make sure to stir the mixture every 5 to 10 minutes.
Top On Dessert Of Your Choice
Within about 30 minutes the cherries have been cooked and reduced. The water has steamed off and the balsamic vinegar and cherry juice is a dark brown red. I take the pan out of the grill and set it aside to cool down. Then I top whatever dessert I have handy with the sweet and sour cherry compote mixture.