Grappa Cherries

July 16, 2013

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Food52's Test Kitchen Manager, Jennifer Vogliano, shares her family recipe for grappa-soaked cherries.

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My husband's mother was born in Navarons, Italy, and every year her father would pick wild cherries and soak them in homemade grappa. They would serve the soaked cherries, floating in fruit-infused grappa, as dessert on special occasions. This was considered a feminine, delicate drink, and was mostly offered to women; the men traditionally drank wine or straight grappa.

In keeping with family tradition, my husband's parents continued to soak grappa cherries every summer. They originally picked them from their wild cherry tree in Northport, Long Island, and later bought the summer's finest from local markets. They would soak the cherries from June to December, then give them as Christmas gifts to family and friends. 

Now my husband continues the tradition passed down by his parents and grandparents and makes grappa cherries every June -- enjoyed by the women and men in our family all year round.

Grappa Cherries

Makes 2 jars

1 bunch cherries
Enough grappa to cover

Glass jars with lids


First, wash your cherries, making sure to dry them thoroughly. 

Snip off all but 1/4 inch of each stem; it will act like a little umbilical cord that drinks up the grappa.

Pour over enough grappa to cover your cherries. Seal in an air-tight jar, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 6 months.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Concetta Smith
    Concetta Smith
  • Sarah Hill
    Sarah Hill
  • Chris Culhane
    Chris Culhane
  • Scottsdale Bubbe
    Scottsdale Bubbe
  • simplysandi

Written by: jvcooks

My true passion is anything that centers around food and cooking. I love to entertain and cook with family and friends. A juicy summer tomato sprinkled with sea salt is my idea of the perfect food and though I have tried it many times, I just can't get myself to like coconut. Braising is my cooking method of choice and I love salt! I prefer to cook then to bake, but regardless, I just love to be in the kitchen. I live in Manhattan with my husband and two children. For more about Jennifer Vogliano, check out the Behind Food52 Page.


Concetta S. August 4, 2013
I'm not sure what is meant by "air-tight". Does this mean the mason jars have to be boiled in water so the lid pops in, in order to be air-tight? Or is simply putting a lid on it enough? I made six jars, planning to give away so I don't want anyone to get sick from it!
Sarah H. August 2, 2013
I made this recipe last night with some grappa my family brought me from a trip to Italy. Thank you for the recipe!
So, grappa is a bit hard for me to drink on its own (please don't hate me). Since I used sweet cherries in this recipe, do you think the grappa's flavor will lighten and be easier to drink in six months? I'm trying to decide if this should be a gift, or something I should keep for myself.
Chris C. July 22, 2013
Well I did, we'll see how this turns out in six months. Unfortunately I'm all out of grappa now!
Scottsdale B. July 22, 2013
I have never seen grappa in a liquor store or comprehensive grocery liquor department. Where would one purchase it?
RobRod July 22, 2013
If you are in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, check out Total Wine. They have several locations in the area.
simplysandi July 22, 2013
I cannot wait to do this! It just sounds decadent!
casperlory July 21, 2013
How many ounces/pounds is a "bunch?"
RobRod July 21, 2013
I filled a quart-sized mason jar with dark sweet cherries; added a third volume of kirschwasser (Swiss cherry brandy) and filled the remainder of the jar with Grappa. Looking forward to December when I will use some of the cherries in a clafoutis among other baked delights.
Kathy S. July 21, 2013
Hah! Surely nothing could live thru that liquor soak!
Anne T. July 21, 2013
Is there no need to process in a boiling water bath?
Kathy S. July 21, 2013
I soaked some cherries in brandy and sugar according to a Saveur recipe the 1st week of June to use with Manhattans. Some of the good restaurants use a cherry that has a very interesting flavor and isn't real sweet. Thought I would try. But I got lazy and didn't pit them. After about 3 weeks I tasted and added some red port and a little cointreau, trying to soften the brandy. I will say they are very strong at this point. Haven't tried a manhattan with them yet, but they seem like they would be very strong & liquory in number for a dessert. Maybe a little with ice cream. Next time I will try an alcohol that is not so strong like maybe a sweet wine. Even a Japanese Plum Wine might be interesting.
Irene V. July 21, 2013
I have done something similar using dried berries and adding a couple of cinnamon sticks to it. I like the idea of using fresh cherries but not the idea of dealing with the pits during consumption.
Muse July 21, 2013
These look absolutely divine...can't wait to spoon them over some home-made pound cake for dessert! Thank you for posting your recipe.
kate H. July 21, 2013
Can't wait to make this beautiful treat! Does it matter what kind of cherries used? Pie cherries vs sweet?
LittleKi July 18, 2013
Looks lovely! Beginner question: how do you deal with the pits after they have sat for six months?
Kristen M. July 17, 2013
I can't believe how simple this is, and how lovely. The umbilical cord detail is so smart and memorable too. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer!
Chris C. July 17, 2013
I'll try Grappa, but has anyone tried using Luxardo? Cherry liquor infused cherries? Yea or Nay?
amyc July 17, 2013
Very much a yes on Luxardo.
eatboutique July 17, 2013
I imagine it would be wonderful, I'm going to try!
Chris C. July 17, 2013
I'll try both tonight and compare in 6 months!
jvcooks July 17, 2013
I love Luxardo cherries -- especially in my Perfect Manhattan!
Jennifer July 17, 2013
I preserved a quart of sweet cherries yesterday--pitted, in rum, but I've used other liquors before. If you're giving as holiday gift and want to include a "recipe card," you might just say--serve for dessert alongside some cheese, or spooned over ice cream/yogurt or over a chocolate tart or slice of cheesecake...You can preserve other summer fruits in liquor too--I'm fond of apricots--but cherries are really the best.
ncam July 17, 2013
I'd like to try these as a holiday gifts this year, but I'd love to include some recipes/serving suggestions with the jars. Any ideas?
Silvia July 16, 2013
There are different types of grappa... Will any kind do?
ryanm July 17, 2013
I'd imagine. And this probably wouldn't be the place to use a super high-end, artisanal grappa either.
amyc July 16, 2013
I've soaked a lot of cherries in booze, but never in grappa. I tend to use bourbon, rye, brandy or Luxardo. With sweet cherries I pit and water process. With sour, no pitting and no processing (they get soggy) so they stay in the fridge.