Aside from the Great Lakes, Michigan may be best known for its cherries. Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the World. Every July, people come from all over to attend the National Cherry Festival. There is no shortage of cherry-themed stores, products, and recipes. This Michigan Cherry Jalapeno Spread is one of those recipes.
My recipe for this spicy(ish) spread is a copycat, based on the one sold by Natural Northern. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find their products downstate, and with a four-hour drive back to Detroit, it’s hard to bring the spread home after a trip north. Plus, made with fresh produce and cheese, this spread doesn’t last forever, so building a year-round supply isn’t exactly an option. I decided to make my own version that I could whip up and eat whenever I wanted!
Cherry Spread: The Perfect Michigan Snack
The great thing about this spread is that it doesn’t use fresh cherries, which are only available for a very short time every year. Instead, it uses cherry preserves (I’m partial to these from Cherry Republic, which don’t have any added sugar). I’ve tried this with fresh cherries and it really doesn’t work – you want the concentrated cherry flavor that you can only get when preserving fruit. This means you can make this spread year-round. I love it as a summertime potluck dish, but it would also make a great holiday appetizer with its festive green and red colors.
Another great thing about this dish is that you can customize it based on how much spice you’re looking for. When I’m making this for people who don’t like spicy food, I remove all the seeds from the jalapeno. But if you’re looking for a bit of heat, leave some seeds in!
This Michigan Cherry Jalapeno Spread is best enjoyed with a cold glass of bubbles (maybe Mawby??) and good friends. Make some today and enjoy Michigan’s most famous crop, whenever you are.
- 1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 large jalapeno, finely diced
- ½ cup cherry preserves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir until well-combined and smooth. You do not want to use a food processor for this and you do not want to use fresh cherries. Serve with crackers or sliced bread (and a bottle of bubbles).