K-girl, hi! I'm mostly German, so my grandparents were pretty diligent about making flavored alcohol, rumtopf, etc. I have a beautiful wide mouth Mason of blackberry vodka here in my kitchen that is fun to sip on occasion! I can only guess as to whether or not your process is going to work. I can tell you that once my mother (bless her, she can't boil water) "canned" green beans (i.e., she didn't process them), and not only did the lids bulge, but the jars exploded one at a time in the basement, delivering quite a stink for a long time to come! (BTW, I didn't learn to can from her! My father sent me every weekend to my grandmother and great-grandmother who operated restaurants, and my tutoring was completed with them.)
But I can offer some ideas for next time:
- Most flavored alcohols use a little sugar (we use 1/2 cup sugar per quart of fruit/alcohol). Sugar is a preservative, and perhaps it helps the fact that the percentage of alcohol in vodka, for example, is lowered when you introduce a fruit that adds water to the mixture.
- Whether pickling, preserving in alcohol, or whatever method of food preservation I'm going to use, I ask myself, how will the fruit be preserved all the way through its middle? (i.e., how will the dangerous bacteria be removed.)
In the case of alcohol preservation, I always either prick the fruit with a fork or tong, or I slightly crush or peel the fruit. Cherries have a very thick skin, which is why after months of soaking in liquid, they retain a lovely shape. They have a rigidity. Thus, it's hard for preserving alcohol to penetrate unless they are pricked or at the very least, pitted. Other berries have thinner skins, like blackberries and raspberries. I don't prick them, and they soak up the alcohol. Same question is asked when one uses heat as a method of preservation: how long will it take the appropriate temperature to reach the very core of the fruit? If a fruit is very this, or a jam quite viscous, it takes a while longer for the internal temperature to rise. You're using alcohol instead of heat. How will that alcohol penetrate the fruit?
Here the recipe for cherry brandy that I've enjoyed:
one lb. cherries
1/2 cup sugar
a little almond extract if you want (I love this)
2.5 cups brandy
Prick the cherries with a sharp object (tongs, needle, toothpick)
Layer the cherries and sugar evenly in a 1-quart jar.
Add the almond extract, then enough brandy to cover the cherries.
Shake the jar and put it somewhere dark for 3-5 months. Shake the jar occasionally.
Pour the mixture through a few layers of cheesecloth into a new, clean jar or bottle.