What they are:
Cherries are part of the rose family, along with other stone fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots. (Also almonds.) The Romans discovered the small fleshy fruits in Asia Minor around 70 BC — the name cherry comes from the Turkish town of Cerasus. The Romans then introduced these cherries to Britain in the first century AD and the came to North America with English colonists in the 1600’s. There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries in the United States, but the two kinds that are commonly eaten are the sweet cherry Prunus avium
and the sour cherry Prunus Cerasus
What to do with them:
Cherries should be shiny, plump, and firm, with fresh, light green stems. Sour cherries and Bing cherries can range from bright, vibrant red to nearly black-purple. Rainier cherries — a cultivar of cherry developed in 1952 at Washington State University and named after Mount Rainier — are blush tinged whitish-yellow. Loosely cover and refrigerate unwashed cherries for up to one week. Cherries have a brief season, but freeze particularly well. To freeze cherries, wash, dry, stem and pit the cherries and place in resealable plastic freezer bags. Use cherries to make jams, sorbets, compotes, pies, salsas, and sauces.
What some chefs are doing with them right now:
Australian chef Luke Mangan features the fruit in a dark chocolate tart with poached cherries
. At King Noodle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Katy Peetz is serving up Thai coffee ice cream, sour cherries, blueberries, and peanut crumble. UK chef recently featured a lunch special of fresh, pickled beetroot, cherries, amaranth, and goat cheese. And at Hearty in Chicago bar manager Rachel Miller uses Cherries from Nichols Farm in a Sour Cherry Smash using Cognac, cherries, cherry heering, sugar and lemon.
Need more ideas? Check out the cherry recipes in our Cooking District
and Featured recipes
sections, or this great smoked duck breast with summer cherries salad
Also check out this great video from Chow, which explains how to use a paper clip to pit your cherries: