Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tart cherries put exotic spin on sweets

 •  A curious crop

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Surinam cherries, which originated in South America, make tasty juice, jellies and jams. They're also yummy in cakes and as pies.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

spacer spacer

You don't need to cook with Surinam cherries to enjoy them; they're fine fresh, seeded, macerated with a little sugar and added to a fruit salad. If the dark purple ones ever become available here, you won't even need to add sugar because they're sweeter.

"Top Chef" Ilan Hall made a sorbet with Surinam cherries, but he didn't share the recipe on the "Top Chef" Web site; it's likely what he did was boil the cherries with water to make a juice, then sweeten the juice as needed, possibly adding other flavorings, then freezing the sorbet in an ice-cream maker.

Researcher John Griffis says Surinam cherries can be used pretty much anywhere sour pie cherries are called for in pies, or in a sauce-based dessert such as cherries jubilee. Here's his pie recipe.



For the filling:

  • 50-60 Surinam cherries, seeded (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 cooking apples, peeled and cut into eighths

  • 1/2 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)

  • 1 cup sugar or Splenda (divided use)

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • Pinch of salt

  • Butter (about 1 tablespoon)

    Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix seeded Surinam cherries with apples and Craisins. Add 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda; stir until well mixed. Line a pie pan with pastry and fill with fruit mixture. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour and pinch of salt. Sprinkle this over the fruit and then dot with small pieces of butter. Cover with second crust or lattice crust and bake until crust is golden-brown, about 34-55 minutes.

    Makes 1 pie, 8 servings.

  • Per serving: 350 calories, 17 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 3 g protein

    Last week, I made a cherry upside-down cake with part Surinam cherries (frozen earlier in the season) and part pie cherries and it was a hit with the women at a luncheon I attended. For extra assurance that your cake will release easily, use the new silicon bakeware.


  • Butter-flavored cooking spray

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water or lemon juice

  • 3/4 cup canned pie cherries, rinsed in a colander and drained

  • 3/4 cup Surinam cherries, seeded

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla

    Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with butter-flavored cooking spray.

    In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and stir in 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and water or lemon juice. Allow this caramel to come to a boil and pour into prepared cake pan, tilting and rotating to cover the pan's bottom evenly. In a small bowl, mix together pie cherries, Surinam cherries and sugar. Spoon over caramel in cake pan, leaving a little margin around the edge, as the cherries tend to spread.

    In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, cream butter, beat in sugar, add eggs and beat on medium until color lightens and mixture is fluffy. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating well between additions. Stir in vanilla. Carefully turn batter out over fruit in cake pan, pouring and spreading so as to cover fruit and caramel. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes (the cake will be an almost chocolate brown). Cake should shrink from sides of pan and spring back in center when you touch gently on the center. While cake is still quite hot, place flat cake plate over top of cake, and invert cake onto cake plate. Slowly and carefully remove the cake pan, using a paring knife to lift the edge.

    Makes 8 servings.

  • Per serving: 500 calories, 18 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 82 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 60 g sugar, 5 g protein

    Pineapple variation: Arrange five or six pineapple rings on caramel. Fill centers with cut banana. Decorate in between with Craisins or maraschino cherries. Use pineapple juice instead of lemon juice or water when making the caramel. Make cake as above.

    My friend Marylene Chun introduced me to Jessie Kiyabu, who makes a Surinam cherry jelly that is a perfectly clear, glistening rose color and a lovely balance of tart to sweet. Her secret: She makes the jelly 1 cup at a time, something she learned from a great jelly-maker of her acquaintance. It's all but a lost art now, but when the fruit appear in the spring, you may be up for the challenge. (And think of getting all those Christmas presents done in advance.)

    As with any jelly, you start by extracting the juice, boiling the cherries briefly, then allowing them to drip through a filter. (People used to use jelly bags made from muslin, but Kiyabu finds that a plain metal colander works just as well, if you're careful.)

    Main thing: DON'T press on the fruit or stir it up. Five pounds of Surinam cherries yield about 7 cups of juice, according to "Fruits of Hawaii," the classic reference by Carey D. Miller, Katherine Bazore and Mary Bartow (UH Press, 1936).


  • Surinam cherries

  • Water

  • Sugar

    Wash and sterilize as many small canning jars as you think you'll need in boiling water (4- or 6-ounce jars). Don't boil lids; place them in a colander and pour very hot water over them.

    Place whole Surinam cherries however many you have; you'll be measuring later in a large soup pot. Cover with water; water should cover cherries by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil until the liquid changes to red. Watch closely; length of time depends on size of pot and amount of cherries and water but at least 20-30 minutes.

    Slowly and carefully, pour cherries and liquid into a metal colander (not a wire strainer) in the sink or over a large bowl. Do NOT press down or stir; handle fruit gently so it releases only the juice. Allow to drain undisturbed for half a day. When juice appears fully drained, discard pulp and seeds. Now you're ready to make jelly.

    Put 1 cup juice into a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil again and boil 4-5 minutes. Do not skim scum, just stir it back into the jelly. The jelly is ready when it drips off a wooden spoon in large blobs, not in a sheet. The entire process takes about 10 minutes.

    Pour jelly into a sterilized 6-ounce jar. Kiyabu seals the jelly with a thin layer of paraffin wax, but some experts don't consider this sufficient protection and suggest processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

    Repeat, 1 cup at a time, with remaining juice.

  • Per serving (1 tablespoon): 50 calories, 13 g carbohydrate, 12 g sugar, and no fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, fiber or protein

    Reach Wanda A. Adams at wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.