Cherry Sauce with Pepper, Honey and Orange


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    300 ml

Appears in

This is my version of a recipe from Paul Kovi’s fascinating gastro-history of Transylvanian cuisine. Cherries grow abundantly in that part of the world and pepper is a favourite spice. Here they are used together in a garnet-coloured sauce that is fruity, pungent and sweet. It’s perfect with grilled duck breasts, roast pork or turkey, or, as served in Transylvania, spread on bread like jam.


  • cherries 600 g/1 lb 5 oz, pitted
  • juniper berries 1 tsp
  • red wine 450 ml/16 fl oz
  • mild clear honey (such as acacia or orange blossom) tsp
  • freshly ground black pepper ¼–½ tsp
  • orange juice a squeeze
  • lemon juice a squeeze


Put the cherries and juniper berries in a saucepan with the red wine. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down a little and cook for 20–25 minutes or until the cherries are soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Whizz in a food processor or blender, then push the mixture through a sieve, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon.

Put the mixture back in the pan and add the honey, pepper and orange and lemon juices.

Bring to the boil, then let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, stirring, until thickened and slightly reduced. Taste and add more pepper, honey or citrus juice if needed. The sauce should be quite sharp and peppery but also sweet.