Is there a better early summer fruit than the cherry?
OK, yes, we love peaches eaten straight from the hand or in pie. Plums are epic in the famous Marian Burros torte or our own mini galettes. But cherries have a certain something. They’re one of early summer’s iconic foods, right up there with fresh apricots, burgers hot off the grill, and watermelon. The season for fresh cherries is quite short—usually running from late May to late July—so don’t delay in taking advantage of their sweet and versatile flavor. Here’s how to select, store and eat cherries.
Know the Type You Want
Sounds obvious, but be sure not to conflate sweet and tart (sometimes called “sour”) cherries. (Most folks can’t handle eating the tart ones raw!) The difference will be in the amount of sugar you use in the recipe.
How to Select
Look for sweet cherries (with names like Bing, Lambert, Rainier and Royal Ann) at the market as early as May, depending on where in the country you live, and tart ones in July. Both seasons expire by early August. Pick out spot-free, firm fruit that feels heavy for its size.
How to Store
Refrigerate cherries right when they’re home, and eat within five days. Don’t remove stems or rinse with water until you’re ready to use them. Store them in a shallow container covered with paper towels or a clean cloth. Pit the fruit with a pitter or small, sharp knife.
Hungry yet? Great. Here are a few of our favorite ways to incorporate fresh cherries into a range of recipes.
Can’t decide between sweet and savory for that brunch or potluck invite? Do both. Cherries are flexible, as tasty in a sauce for roast duck as they are in a pie. We particularly love them in this easy focaccia spun with honey and thyme.
The 4th of July is just around the corner, and you know what they say about America and a certain sort of pie! Pick up our special pie crust cutter to make this beauty. The pie itself spins ginger and cherries together for a gently spicy, sweet, silky filling. The pie cutter makes the whole thing a snap to assemble.
Ran out of maple syrup? Don’t fret. If you have sweet cherries, such as the delightful Bing variety from the Western United States, you’re in delicious shape. These simple buttermilk pancakes get a delightful lift from cherries that have mingled with brown sugar and almond extract for a nuanced sweetness. They’re such a lovely riff on a classic breakfast treat.
Duck is the famous classic savory partner with cherries, but pork, with all its buttery notes, is just as good, if not better. These pork chops showcase the combo at its finest. (In fact, reviewers gave this recipe five stars!) The flavors at play are sweet, savory, buttery and bright. Think: port wine and leeks, balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary. You may have never played around with this flavor combo before, but that doesn’t mean today can’t be the day!
Pronounce “clafoutis” correctly, and you’ve done most of the work: It’s cla-foo-TEE, which was originally a rustic French dessert. A sweet custard filling is the key to this dessert’s delightful almost-like-popover texture. Ready in 45 minutes, it’s the ideal summer dessert for unexpected guests. You can serve it warm with ice cream, and as is true of everything you make this summer, truly, you should.