I want them to be awesome, not full of bacteria
June 5, 2011 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Can I eat it? - booze edition!

I was going through my liquor cabinet, and came upon an old bottle of cherries in bourbon. I know they're at least two years old, and are soaked in either Jim Beam (80 proof) or Elijah Craig (94 proof). The cherries were washed, then placed in the boiling-water sterilized bottle. There was nothing added besides bourbon (e.g. no sugar). I wouldn't normally hesitate with alcohol soaked items, but the cherries are a unpleasant brown-gray color. Additionally, when I was researching making brandied peaches, all the recipes stated that they should be kept in the fridge unless canned.

So, should I eat them? Use them in other boozy cocktails? What could of happened to them?
posted by lizjohn to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
If the jar wasn't sealed (i.e., canned), I wouldn't eat them (or do anything with them). I think they've (at the very least) gone rancid.
posted by devinemissk at 5:56 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd at least try them: they've become impregnated by booze, and the alcohol content is high enough that you don't need to worry about them having gone "off".

That said, you may find that they aren't that special: after so long in the booze, all the essence may have infused out into the bourbon. But I bet that bourbon is damn tasty!
posted by rosa at 6:06 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know, I'm pretty much the definition of overly cautious, so perhaps I'm out of line, but I feel strongly here that if you've used the phrase "unpleasant" when describing something, your presumptive position should be not eating it.
posted by SMPA at 6:07 PM on June 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

Unless it stinks, try it.
posted by JesseBikman at 6:19 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this is totally normal for (undyed) cherries in alcohol, and isn't a sign of spoilage. A friend of mine made essentially the same thing, using some of my unpitted sour cherries, sugar and burbon, and I kept my jar of it in the freezer--the cherries looked exactly the same as yours, and they were fine.
posted by pullayup at 6:21 PM on June 5, 2011

Is that picture how they were stored, or did you pour out the rest of that liquid? If that's how they have been for the past two years, I'd be very wary of whatever is in there, because even if the bottle was sterile the air that filled it most certainly was not. I am not a biologist.
posted by Think_Long at 6:44 PM on June 5, 2011

they've gone rancid.

Rancid means something pretty specific, the break-down of fat molecules, like in butter or nut oils. There's a distinct off odour to rancid fats.

You've made really old, unsweetened "Maraschino cherries". If you look down the page, you'll see these preserved cherries are starting to brown. The cherries have oxidized, and have probably lost flavour, but I'd be very surprised if they're dangerous to drink. I've held berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) in proof liquor (more than 40%) in excess of a year at room temperature.
posted by bonehead at 7:09 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: On revisiting, first and foremost *could have

Secondly, I think I might have poured out some, within the last year or so, to taste the bourbon. I know I would have made sure the cherries were completely covered.
posted by lizjohn at 7:16 PM on June 5, 2011

(I don't know if you should eat them, but keep in mind that this horrible color this is the reason why store-bought cherries are dyed red.)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:33 PM on June 5, 2011

Taste a small amount first. My hunch is that they're fine.
posted by Miko at 8:44 PM on June 5, 2011

Response by poster: For the sake of advancing metafilter as a science publication, and perhaps fueled by sangria made from the aforementioned brandied peaches, my husband and I both nibbled on one of the cherries. It tastes like bourbon with a rubbery cherry texture. There was nothing off, or rotten tasting about them. I wouldn't eat them straight, but I'll try it in a cocktail. I'll update tomorrow if one of us lands in the hospital.
posted by lizjohn at 9:47 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nah, they won't rot, after all that time in alcohol. Just stale, perhaps. The color: totally normal, for that time of storage. I'd vote for not likely a hazard, but perhaps past their prime.
posted by Namlit at 3:50 AM on June 6, 2011

I have 2 one year old jars of cherries in bourbon sitting in my fridge right now. This was the process I used to make them. I used Evan Williams. Your photo isn't loading for me at the moment, but mine are also a strange non cherry color. I just chocolate coated some last week and brought them to a party, no one got sick. My jars were never sealed in the traditional canning sense.
posted by ridiculous at 7:47 AM on June 6, 2011

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