in season: cherries

Author: Jen Johnson

Posted by | August 06, 2010 | Recipes, Seasonal | No Comments

I love cherries, the fact that you have to invest a little more work to enjoy them compared to other fruit doesn’t bother me. You find yourself easing into a rhythm of breaking off the stem, separating and spitting the pit, then enjoying the sweet fruit. It may eventually become a game, seeing how far you can spit the pit, comparing your talents to whomever you’re enjoying them with. Take advantage of the season and buy a sack at your local farmers market, they may sell a type that you’ve never tried before.

Keep reading for more info about perfect summer cherries.

- Cherries are grown in several regions of this country, but seventy percent of the cherries produced in the United States come from four states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah!

- The maraschino cherries you buy in a jar are not a variety of fresh cherry at all. They are light cherries, usually royal anne, that have been bleached, dyed, sugared, flavored with bitter almond, and preserved.

- Cherry season begins at the end of may in warmer growing regions and last through the summer. The growing season in Utah is a little later because it stays cooler longer here and the cherries need warm weather to ripen well.

- Closely related to plums and other stone fruit, cherries have been known and appreciated since ancient times. Theophrastus, an early botanist and protégé of Aristotle, mentions them in his “History of Plants” in the 3rd century B.C., going so far as to mention that they had already been known to the Greeks for centuries.

- At more than 12,000 ORAC units per hundred grams of fruit, cherries have a higher antioxidant capacity than grapes, oranges, plums, raspberries and strawberries combined.

- Cherries contain anthocyanins 1 and 2 that researchers believe can have a significant impact on relieving muscle and joint soreness more quickly; perfect for all you aspiring athletes.

selection: At the market, pick a handful of cherries at a time and only select the best fruit. This may be time-consuming, but the reward will be better cherries. Good cherries should be large (one inch or more in diameter), glossy, plump, hard and dark-colored for their variety. Buy cherries with green and pliable stems, not brown and dry. Reject undersized cherries or those that are soft or flabby. Avoid fruit that is bruised or has cuts on the dark surface.

storage: Refrigerate cherries as soon as possible in a plastic bag but do not try to keep them longer than a few days.

use: eat sweet cherries at will; after a good rinse; just don’t eat the pit. You can use cherries to make soups, cafloutis, cobblers, pilafs, pies, ice creams, they can be preserved in spirits, dried, pickled, braised, and made into jams, chutneys, and jellies, to name a few.

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Stephanie wrote a post not too long ago linking to a few cherry dessert recipes, check it out here.

here are a few more cherry recipes I thought sounded delicious and worth trying.

cherries in red wine syrup

macaroon cherry tart

wild rice with dried cherries and filberts

little cherry and chestnut chocolate brownies

sweet potato curry, adding dried cherries

sour cherry soup infused with lemon thyme and vanilla

pickled cherries

from chez panisse: fruit
It is recommended to use sour cherries for pickling as they have the best flavor. They can be served alongside charcuterie as an hors d’oeuvre.

2 pounds cherries
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
4 cloves
6 peppercorns

Rinse, dry, and pick over the cherries throwing out or eating the blemished ones and cutting down the stems to about 1/2 inch; no need to pit them.

Prepare 8 one pint canning jars and self sealing lids in boiling water, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stir together the sugar, vinegar, cloves, and peppercorns in a nonreactive saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook for three minutes. Pack the cherries into the canning jars. Pour the hot srup over the cherries, cover, and seal, following the manufacturer’s nistrctions. Let sit for 2 months in a cool, dark place before eating. After opening the jars, the cherries will keep refrigerated for a year.

Makes 8 pints.

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