Cherry Season = Cherries Jubilee

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Not Far From the Tree summary: recipe for Cherries Jubilee; information about Not Far From the Tree and Plated Stories; (click on images for more photos and larger views)

I was reading “Cherries” on Jamie and Ilva’s blog, Plated Stories, surprised that there was no mention of Cherries Jubilee. I came back here and was amazed to see that I too had neglected to post about this ultimate way to serve cherries.

Classic cherries jubilee […] flambeed with brandy is a great, refreshing dessert especially after a hearty meal., Classic Cherries Jubilee

cherries There’s nothing so thrilling as blue flames for dessert!

We were riding our bikes through the neighbourhood the other day and in one of the front yards, I saw the most beautiful cherry tree, laden with beautiful white and rose coloured cherries! And I suddenly wondered if I would get to pick cherries for NotFarfromtheTree this year.

I hope so!! I hope so!!! (I’m on a waiting list to be chosen for the first cherry picks of the season this Saturday…).

Pick me! Pick me!!

Because j’adore cherries! Cherry pie, dried cherries, stewed cherries, and of course, Cherries Jubilee.

I don’t remember now when it was that I first had Cherries Jubilee. I must have been quite young – eight? ten? – and it would have been on a festive occasion when Mum had pulled out all the stops. Whenever it was, I know that I was sure I was in heaven.

But still, the most thrilling time I had Cherries Jubilee was when I was 13. Or was I 14? My younger sister and I were sent alone (!!) to The Factor’s Table at the Fort Gary Hotel in Winnipeg while my parents attended a wedding:

[W]hat did we two wide eyed girls order for dinner? We studied the menu carefully and chose anything that could be flambéed. We had chateau briand for our main course and cherries jubilee for dessert. (The appetizer has faded from my memory… it wasn’t flambéed.) I’m not sure who was more entertained, we two being waited on hand and foot, eating really wonderful food and being treated as grownups; or the entire staff and other guests in that candlelit dining room seeing our delight in everything that occurred.

It really was one of the most wonderful dinners and the perfect precursor to what has become a lifetime of fine dining, whether flambéed or not, whether in ornate or simple surroundings.

-me, Flambeed food, Tuesday, 7 September 2004

So, why is it that we don’t have Cherries Jubilee more often? And how is it that our recipe for Cherries Jubilee isn’t recorded anywhere here OR in our recipe binder in the kitchen?

These are both valid questions. And, at last, I am about to make the second one moot.

I actually fully believed that I had already posted about Cherries Jubilee. And here in my mixed up files, is the first draft:

brownies We served the brownies and ice cream – offering a choice of mango, cardamom or sweet cream – and cherries jubilee.

We used tinned sour red cherries in a light sugar syrup. We served the brownies and ice cream (offering a choice of mango, cardamom or sweet cream) in their dishes and placed the pan of cherries on the table, put out the candles and dimmed the lights in preparation for the jubileeing. (Note to self: leave the candles lit; I don’t think they would detract anything from the blue flames.)

Normally, brandy or kirsch would be used, but on this occasion we heated rum in a small pot, lit it at the table and poured the flaming liquor over the cherries.

It’s not the easiest thing to photograph and I have to say that I would much rather have sat back to oooh and aah than to have a camera stuck on my nose. Next time, that’s what I’ll do…

-me, 1st draft of Cherries Jubilee post, April2009/September2013

And indeed, the other times that we’ve had Cherries Jubilee, I haven’t bothered to try to photograph it. There’s a lot to be said for living in the moment and holding the memory in one’s head….

cherries As for the answer to the first question…. Well?? Shall we have Cherries Jubilee for Canada Day? What better way to celebrate?

Cherries Jubilee

  • 1 jar (~250 ml) preserved cherries (preferably sour red) ¹
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp brandy, (or kirsch, cognac, rum…) ²
  • brownies (optional)
  • ice cream ³
  1. Drain the cherries into a sieve placed over a bowl (reserve the juice!). Gently but firmly check each cherry and remove any pits. Invariably, there is at least one cherry in any cherries that are marked as being pitted, especially if they have been pitted commercially. This part can (and should) be done in advance.
  2. Melt butter in a frying pan placed over medium high heat. Whisk in sugar and cornstarch. Add the reserved juice, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Cook for about 3 minutes until it has thickened. Don’t stop stirring!
  3. Taste the sauce and whisk in lemon juice if you like.
  4. Gently warm the brandy (or whatever liquor you are using) in a small pot. Set aside.
  5. Add the drained cherries to the thickened cherry juice and bring the pan to a boil. Immediately turn down the heat and leave to simmer for a moment.
  6. Put brownies (if you have them) and ice cream into dishes and take them along with the pan of cherries to the table. Dim the lights on the way back to the kitchen.
  7. Pour the heated brandy into a large fire-proof ladle (metal…) or leave it in the little pot and carefully carry it to the table. Light the brandy and pour it over the cherries.

Exclaim: Oooh!! Ah!!!! When the flames have completely died away, immediately spoon the cherries and their sauce over each bowl of ice cream.


1.) Cherries Most Cherries Jubilee recipes call for Black, Dark Red or Bing cherries. We just like sour red cherries more. We used to buy pitted cherries. But, if we don’t have jars of cherries that we’ve canned – and NOT pitted, we’ve started buying jars of unpitted cherries because then we know that we’ll find a pit in every cherry. (Please don’t ask why we are so adamant about checking for pits. Suffice it to say that there is a dentist who profitted greatly in the past because we foolishly believed the “pitted cherries” label.)

2.) brandy, etc. It doesn’t seem to matter what liquor is used, as long as it is warmed first. We’ve had Cherries Jubilee on various occasions, made with kirsch, brandy or rum. Bourbon or whiskey would work too.

3.) ice cream Of course, vanilla is the traditional flavour. But sweet cream is our preference. Mango is good too. I suspect that lemon, coffee, or chocolate would also work well.

Not Far From the Tree Not Far From the Tree

“Not Far From the Tree” is a Toronto organization that includes a residential fruit-picking program to pick fruit (with permission, of course) that would otherwise go to waste.

cherries There are lots and lots of fruit trees and vines in Toronto!! Bearing fruit that is eaten by birds, squirrels and raccoons. If you have such a thing in your garden and would like the animals to share the fruit with people, please do contact “Not Far From the Tree”. They will send a team of pickers to clean up your yard of fallen fruit and pick the good fruit that is still in the tree. The harvested fruit is divided evenly into 3 portions: one third going to the tree owners, one third going to the volunteer pickers and the final third going to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens.

The cherries in the photo are from last year’s cherry harvest. The colour is a bit dull but we know the flavour is going to be stellar. We can’t wait to try them in Cherries Jubilee!!

Here’s hoping that I will be chosen to pick more cherries! I’ve got my fingers crossed. (I hope that didn’t cause too many typos. :lalala: )

For more information about NFFtT and how you can donate your time and/or share your fruit, please go to

Plated Stories cherries © Ilva Beretta cherries

Have you seen Jamie and Ilva’s post on their lovely blog, Plated Stories: Cherry?

No? Race on over!

I do love Jamie’s words and Ilva’s photos, gazing at the beautiful silver bowl, shaking my head at the greedy birds, marvelling at the cherries in the sardine tin and the cherries sewn together in a strand with needle and thread (how DID Ilva think of that?), being transported directly to the fruit laden tree in Jamie’s parents-in-law’s garden and knowing that I’d be right there at the top of the ladder trying desperately to reach the perfect bunches of cherries that I could just touch with the tips of my fingers.


Cherries Jubilee


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3 responses to “Cherry Season = Cherries Jubilee

  1. barbara

    Mmm. Cherries! I always thought Cherries Jubilee _had_ to be made with sour cherries, but once I made it with Bing cherries, thinking that it would probably be ok. I was amazed that Jubilee-ing even made Bing cherries taste great. But not as good as sour cherries.

    Nothing can be as good as sour red cherries, Barbara! But it’s good to know that Bing cherries don’t ruin Cherries Jubilee.
    Barbara, I looked and looked, but I can’t seem to find Mum’s recipe for Cherries Jubilee (although we’re pretty sure that this one of T’s is very close to her recipe). Do you have it?

  2. Joanne

    I love any dessert with cherries, but I can’t say I’ve ever had them prepared this way! I’m sure the caramelization that happens from the flame makes them taste out of this world good!

    No time like the present, Joanne! :-) You neeeeeeeed to try these. Because you’re right; they are out of this world. Just make sure to flambee them at the table for best effect. It just occurred to me that one of those small Turkish coffee pots would be the perfect pot for warming the brandy. Do let me know how your cherries Jubilee turns out. (Perfect for 4th of July, don’t you think??) -Elizabeth

  3. Patricia

    I remember that evening at The Factor’s Table but I don’t remember what we ate. Mostly what I remember is the American couple sitting next to us talking to us about what they should eat. When you told them that our parents liked to have Goldeye fish, the man looked very interested and said, “I think I’ll have that.” His wife pursed her lips and said, “no you won’t. you won’t like it, you’ll have the beef.” He looked crushed and had the beef.

    Boy was given a very large (3 L) can of sweet cherries packed in pear juice. He wants to make pie. I’m pretty sure I can talk him into using some of the cherries for Cherries Jubilee as he also loves everything flambeed.

    Until you jogged my memory, I had forgotten about that couple, Patricia! I can picture both of them now and hear their flat mid-western accents. But what I remember is a tiny bit different: that the lady said (just a little sharply), “No, you won’t. You don’t like fish.” That poor deflated man….
    Oh, I hope that Boy lets you have some of the cherries to make Jubilee! (Packed in pear juice! How cool is that?)


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