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Cherries in Kirsch

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Amazing cherries in Kirsch, one of my favorite ways of preserving cherries. They are the perfect topping for lots of desserts.

preserved fruit in alcohol

These cherries in kirsch are a revelation! I rarely drink alcohol and I cannot even remember ever having a glass of pure brandy, but these brandied cherries are addictive.

A word of caution: if you have too many of them, you will probably get tipsy… Nothing for kids or pregnant women. The non-alcoholic version of this recipe would be the cherries in syrup.

Our old and huge cherry tree is full again, so I am preserving, making cherry butter and baking cakes every day. I am so tired of pitting them though… you cannot even imagine… But it is all worth it!

I’ve made a first small batch of Kirsch cherries last year (only three way too small jars), let it rest for about 3-4 weeks, devoured them all, and almost wept because it was too late to make another batch… the season was over. This year I’ve made a triple batch already…

close up of brandied cherries with kirsch wasser

What is Kirsch?

Kirsch or Kirschwasser (cherry water) is a German brandy made from double distillation of morello cherries and their stones.

It is a clear brandy, not sweet, quite pungent, but not as pungent as other German clear brandies, the so-called Obstler or fruit brandies.

It is usually served after dinner as a digestif in a small glass, a regular offering in restaurants. But it can also be used to make cocktails.

Kirschwasser is a necessary ingredient when baking one of the most popular German cakes – the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or the Black Forest Cake.

cherries preserved in alcohol in a jar with cherries in the background

What do you need?

  • Cherries: 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs sweet cherries. Heart or bing cherries, whatever you happen to find.
  • Kirschwasser: 250 ml/ 1 cup for one batch.
  • Sugar: about 500 g/ 1.1 lb. I took slightly less when making the second and third batch and the brandied cherries are still amazing, actually, I did not notice any difference, they are still sweet enough.
  • Spices: 1-2 star anise (they add so much flavor), ½ cinnamon stick, and 2 cloves.
  • Lemon juice: about 1-2 tablespoons or to taste.
jar of cherries in kirsch seen from above

How to make?

  • Wash and stone the cherries. I use a cherry pitter, I would be lost without it. (1)
  • Place the cherries in a large pot. Add the sugar and spices. Stir well but carefully, you don’t want to crush the cherries. (2)
  • Turn on the heat, turn it on low and let the sugar dissolve slowly. (3)
  • Once the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid starts to bubble, set the timer to 5 minutes. Simmer the cherries, stirring every minute or so.
  • After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the cherries stand for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the Kirsch and lemon juice to taste. If you taste the cherries before adding the lemon, then add the lemon and taste again, you will notice the difference. The flavors just seem to come alive! (4)
  • Place the cherries into sterilized jars leaving about 2 cm/ 0.8 inches headspace.
  • Pour the liquid into the jars, the fruit should be completely covered in liquid.
  • Clean the rim of the jars very well trying to remove any traces of foam if there are still any.
  • Seal immediately.
  • Let cool completely.
pitting cherry, mixing with sugar and boiling


  • Definitely use a cherry pitter. A cherry pitter will remove the stone and leave the cherry whole with just a hole in the middle. If you pit the cherries any other way, you might have to split them in two and that is not good for this recipe.
  • Don’t forget the lemon juice, I really feel it makes a huge difference, it cuts through the sweetness and enlivens the flavors.
  • Make sure that the pot you are using is large enough, once the sugar starts to boil it will form a lot of foam and if the pot is too small the foam will boil over.
  • Remove as much of the foam as possible after the cherries have cooled slightly for 4-5 minutes. There will be a lot of it once the sugar starts to boil, but most of it will be gone at the end.
  • Clean the rim of the jars with kitchen paper before sealing.
  • As mentioned above these brandied cherries are really boozy, don’t drive after having too many of them, and don’t serve children or pregnant women.
kirsch cherries in a jar on a flowery table cloth

How to store?

  • The cherries in Kirsch keep well in a dark cool place like the cellar.
  • You can also keep them refrigerated if you like.
  • Allow them 3-4 weeks of resting time before serving, the flavors will develop.
  • They will keep well for long (at least 6 months and probably longer), sugar and alcohol are good preservatives.

How to serve?

  • My favorite way: on top of ice cream.
  • Also amazing on top of waffles or pancakes.
  • Try them on semolina or rice pudding.
  • Add to cake fillings or use them to decorate a cake.
  • Use the liquid to soak cake bases before filling.
  • Try to avoid the temptation of spooning a whole jar as it is, you will get drunk…

More ways of using fresh cherries

Do you like this recipe?

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jar of cherries in kirsch seen from above

Cherries in Kirsch

Amazing cherries in Kirsch, one of my favorite ways of preserving cherries. The boozy cherries are the perfect topping for lots of desserts.
4.60 from 10 votes
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Course: Preserves and Canning Recipes
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 3 small jars
Calories: 601kcal
Author: Adina


  • 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs sweet cherries
  • 400-500 g/ 14-17 oz/ 2-3 cups granulated sugar Note
  • 250 ml/ 8.5 fl.oz/ 1 cup Kirsch brandy
  • 1 large star anise or 2 smaller
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or more to taste


  • Stone the cherries with a cherry pitter, they should remain whole with only a hole in the middle. Place in a large pot, a lot of foam will form once the sugar and the cherries are cooking, it should not have a chance to boil over.
  • Add the sugar and stir carefully to mix. Add the star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. Turn on the heat and heat gently, stirring often but carefully, until the sugar dissolves completely.
  • Once the liquid starts to boil, set the timer to 5 minutes. Simmer stirring every minute or so. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool for another 4-5 minutes. Remove as much of the foam as possible, there will be a lot of it when the sugar starts to boil, but it will be pretty much gone at the end.
  • Add the Kirsch and some lemon juice to taste. Stir well. Discard the spices. Place the cherries into sterilized jars. Cover completely with the liquid. Clean the rim of the jars with kitchen paper and seal. Let cool completely.
  • Keep in the refrigerator or in a dark cool place. Let them develop the flavors for about 3-4 weeks before serving.


Originally, I used 500 g/ 3 cups of sugar. However, once I reduced the quantity to 400 g/ 2 cups I didn’t notice much of a difference, the cherries in Kirsch are still sweet enough.


Serving: 1/3 of a jar | Calories: 601kcal | Carbohydrates: 143g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 139g
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Nancy Wallace Dillard

Saturday 13th of November 2021

Do the cherries have to sit 3-4 weeks or can you use them the day after? I wanted to make a black forest cake for my birthday tomorrow.


Sunday 14th of November 2021

Hi Nancy, they need some time to absorb the alcohol and the flavor, tomorrow would be too soon. I always make Black Forest Cake with canned cherries in light syrup and add some Kirsch to them.


Friday 5th of November 2021

Just set three jars aside to cool, planning on making a black forest cake for Thanksgiving. There were a few delicious spoonfuls left in the bottom of the pan. This time of year I could only find canned tart cherries in water, so I used the full three cups of sugar. I cannot wait to see how they taste in three weeks. Thanks for the recipe


Friday 5th of November 2021

Thank you for the feedback, Andrea.