Maybe it’s their short season that makes perfectly ripe, fresh cherries such an unrivaled treat, whether eaten fresh, cooked on the stovetop or baked into bright, sweet-tart desserts. As they hit farmers’ markets in late spring, use our tips for choosing and preparing cherries, and try a few of our favorite recipes for any part of a meal.
Look for: Make sure cherries are large, plump and smooth, with stems attached and firm, green leaves. They should be used as soon as possible; if you do need to store them, refrigerate in a shallow container covered with a clean cloth or paper towels for up to 5 days.
Prep tips: Keep stems attached until you’re ready to use — once you remove them, the cherries will spoil quickly. To keep them from molding, wash cherries under cold running water just before using. Before using them in recipes, pit the fruit with a cherry pitter or small, sharp knife.
Types and uses: Sweet cherries, such as the deep red, plump Bing and bright red Lambert varieties are best for eating fresh. More delicate Royal Ann, Ranier and other golden cherries may be only softly tinged with pink or red. All sweet cherries pair well in savory dishes with poultry and meats, especially duck, pheasant, pork and venison. They’re also perfect for summer pies, pastries and ice cream.
Variations: Sour cherries are smaller and softer than their sweet relatives, found in markets for only a few weeks during the summer. They are usually too sour to eat raw, but their flavor and texture are prized when baked in pies or turnovers or cooked into preserves and sauces.
On a hot afternoon, mix this refreshing mocktail with cooked and pureed cherries and a splash of club soda.
|Brown Butter Waffles with Cherries
Kick off a weekend morning with crisp, golden waffles — the indentations are ideal for catching melted butter and this honeyed cherry compote.
|Chilled Sour Cherry Soup with Tarragon
Fresh tarragon lends its anise flavor to this unexpected first course, complementing the sweet-sour cherries perfectly.
|Braised Pork Chops with Cherries
Pork always pairs well with fruit, but cherries really bring out the natural sweetness of the meat. This one-pot meal comes together quickly for a weeknight, but it’s impressive enough to serve to guests.
|Mini Cherry Pies
These individually sized pies make wonderful after-school snacks and picnic desserts, and the simple ingredient list lets ripe cherries take center stage.
With a little sugar, lemon juice and heat, whole cherries turn into beautiful preserves. Spoon over ice cream for a summer treat.