Cherries |


Photo by Lisa McLaughlin
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 introduced cherries to Britain in the first century AD and they first appeared on North American shores 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: The newest dessert from Spoon Pittsburgh is Black Forest, made with hazelnut flourless cake, Luxardo cherries, chantilly cream & white chocolate crumb. In Atlanta, Wisteria Restaurant is serving up a gorgeous salad of Rainier cherries, baby beets, pink lady apples, Savoy cabbage Great Hill blue cheese, port wine vinaigrette, and macadamia brittle. At The Troll's Pantry — a sustainable burger business championing local organic produce, animal welfare, zero food waste, living wage & common sense eating in Brighton, England, cherries found their way into The Drunken Reaper: a hefty burger topped with a Sussex cherry & saison sauce, pickled asparagus, camembert, and smoked bacon. Bradley Sewell, head chef at Goose Island Brew Pub is pairing Striped Bass, with couscous, cider poached cherries, pickled carrots and miso butter.

Need more ideas? Check out the cherry recipes in our Cooking District and Featured recipes sections.

Also check out this great video from Chow, which explains how to use a paper clip to pit your cherries:


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