Pickled Cherries with Five-Spice Blend

Adapted from Pickled Cherries by Michael Symon's Live to Cook

Makes 2 quarts

2 lbs sweet or sour cherries, stems and pits intact

3 cups (24 fl. oz.) cherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns

3 cinnamon sticks

3 bay leaves

3 pieces of star anise

2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

With a small fork or a toothpick, puncture each cherry 5-6 times to allow the pickling juice to penetrate the fruit. Place the cherries into a glass jar.

In a medium pot, mix together the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to 1/3 of its original volume. Remove the pot from heat and let the pickling liquid cool down for 10 minutes.

Pour the liquid over the cherries in the jar. If the cherries are not fully submerged, that's okay. In a few hours, they will release more juice into the pickling liquid. Let the cherries cool down completely before closing the lid.

Keep the pickled cherries in the seal jar in the refrigerator. To prolong the life of the pickled cherries, use a clean spoon every time you dig into the cherry jar. The pickled cherries, refrigerated, will keep up to one month. Keep in mind that the longer they keep, the more wrinkly and the more pale they will become.