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 they later 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:
At his eponymous TALDE in Brooklyn, Chef Dale Talde serves up Korean Fried Chicken with spicy kimchee yogurt and cherries. Ilan Hall, another Top Chef alum cooking in Brooklyn, has a slow braised gingered rabbit with three cherry preparations; pickled, raw and a cherry mustard on his opening menu at The Gorbals. At Catch in NYC Pastry Chef Thiago Silva offers up a "cherry pie over doughs" — a fried croissant filled with sour hibiscus-infused cherries and vanilla custard, topped with toasted almond ice cream and almond streusel. At Seattle's Cafe Juanita, Holly Smith seared foie is prepared with Bing cherries, ginger and crunchy cacao nibs. In Boston, Geoff Lukas, Chef de cuisine at Sofra Bakery has a duck confit albaloo with freekeh pilaf. And at “Seed and Sow,” a 48-hour pop-up restaurant designed to celebrate and showcase Southern Arizona farmers, ranchers and artisans this weekend at Zona 78 in Tucson, Arizona, one of the entrees will be E & R Local Berkshire Pork Chop, Pickled Cherries, Geoff’s Mom’s Lemon Verbena & Thyme, Sleeping Frog Farm Georgia Southern Collard Greens, Whiskey Del Bac and Cherry Sauce.
Need more ideas? Check out the cherry recipes in our Cooking District
and Featured recipes
Also check out this great video from Chow, which explains how to use a paper clip to pit your cherries: