Pickled cherries

Cooking in July is a loose term, the oven rarely goes on. Instead, it’s about the heat and smoke of a quick grill with lemon and hard herbs; tomatoes warm from the vine and sliced with crunchy salt and our best extra virgin olive oil and a little thyme or mint; and piles of soft berries and currants in a bowl of thick double pouring cream.

Kent cherries are one of our favourite ingredients to use both at home and in the Water Lane restaurant and are so versatile, working in both sweet and savoury dishes. A bowl of ice-cold cherries and a few squares of bitter dark chocolate, on the table after lunch is the chicest dessert, but fresh cherries happily complement young goats’ cheeses and dried sour cherries are wonderful in a stuffing for chicken, or through a grain salad. Cherries’ partnership with duck is well-known but less well documented is how well they work with oily fish, when lightly pickled with aromatics.


  • 1ltr sterilised glass preserving jar
  • A heavy bottom sauce pan


  • 375g cherries (stems left on)
  • 150ml red wine vinegar
  • 275g organic caster sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of aromatics such as black peppercorns, fennel pollen, coriander seed, cinnamon, mace and ground ginger


Wash the cherries and let them dry. Fill the sterilised jar without squashing or bruise them. Add the aromatics, sugar and vinegar to a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Carefully pour the pickle liquor over the cherries and seal the jars.

The pickled cherries can be eaten a few days later but they will be so much more delicious after a few weeks, so, if possible, please show restraint. So good with grilled mackerel or lamb chops or in a simple rocket salad with feta or goats’ cheese.

Don’t discard the liquor after you have eaten the cherries as it will make a wonderful cherry scented vinaigrette or add a special kick to slow roasted pork belly.