Since this is the first time I've ever pickled anything, it was also the first time I needed to sterilize hot jars. The easiest method I found online was to submerge your jars and lids (separately) in a pot of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat and let the jars continue to sit in the water until you've prepared the rest of the ingredients below - I was nervous about boiling glass jars, but it turned out to be simple enough!
Meanwhile, pour 1 and 3/4 cups red wine vinegar into a saucepan. Combine with 3/4 cup raw sugar, 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns, 2 whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, and 1 (5-inch) strip of lemon rind. I didn't have any lemons on hand, so simply omitted that last ingredient.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring so the sugar dissolves. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the burner and let stand for 30 minutes, then drain the mixture through a sieve over a bowl.
Discard the solids, and return the vinegar to the saucepan; return to a boil.
While the vinegar mixture stands, wash and pat dry 1 and 1/4 pounds of sweet cherries. Prick each cherry a few times with a fork.
Spoon the cherries into the sterilized hot jars (remove the jars from the pot of water with tongs, so you don't burn yourself, and make sure that there is no water left inside them!).
Pour the hot vinegar over the cherries, leaving at least 1/4-inch room at the top. Close the lids of the jars tightly, then cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least 2 weeks before serving. Here are the cherries in the jars just before going into the fridge:
You'll have 10 servings of about 5-6 cherries, depending on how big the cherries are. These cherries are great as part of an appetizer plate! Thick crackers and sliced vegan cheese and rolls of vegan deli ham!
sweet cherries $9.37
red wine vinegar $3.50