With the summer season comes the short window to indulge in one of the most universally loved summer fruits — cherries. They’re delicious by the handful, but also versatile in a variety of recipes.
Storage and Prep
Ripe cherries have shiny skin that’s firm (but not hard) to the touch. Store in the refrigerator and wash before eating or using. If the stems haven’t already been removed, pull them off before pitting the cherries.
How to Pit a Cherry
Don’t have a cherry pitter? Here’s how to get the job done with other common kitchen tools.
- If your cherries are destined for pies or sauces, try these methods: Place cherries on a cutting board and use the flat side of a chef’s knife to gently crush them. Use your fingers to remove the pits. Alternatively, push the end of a chopstick or straw into the stem end of the cherry until you hit the pit. Continue pushing until the pit pops out the other end.
- If you need tidy cherry halves for pretty presentation: Use a paring knife to slice the fruit in half, one cherry at a time. Twist and pull to separate the halves and use your fingers to take the pits out.
Show off their lush stone-fruit flavour in Cherry, Apple and Broccoli Slaw with Pine Nuts. This potluck favourite plays up the sweet-tart pairing of apple and fresh cherries with plenty of crunchy bite from the slaw. Or mix the sweet taste of cherries with savoury flavours in Cherry, Kale & Bulgur Salad. Crumbled goat cheese finishes the dish for a sharp note to balance the sweetness.
In Cherry Sauce over Chicken, sweet cherries are complemented by the acidity of balsamic vinegar in an easy-to-make sauce for juicy chicken thighs. The recipe calls for frozen cherries, but fresh ones work too – just be sure to stem and pit them first!
For homemade cherry vinegar, briefly simmer cherries in white wine vinegar or soak them in balsamic vinegar for a few days. Strain out the fruit and use the resulting vinegar in your favourite salad dressing. Save cherry pits from other recipes and add them to the vinegar to further develop the flavour.
Though cherries are a great nutritious snack on their own, they’re also a natural fit in summery desserts of all kinds thanks to their luxurious texture and juicy flavour. Light and fluffy Cherry Mango Picnic Cake is super-simple to make and shines when fresh cherry halves and chopped ripe mango are baked in. Frosting isn’t needed to enjoy this summer version of coffee cake, but a dusting of icing sugar completes the dessert!
Give ice cream cake a makeover with this Chocolate, Cherry & Blueberry Frozen Yogourt Pie that turns the simple froyo dessert into a picture-worthy centrepiece with its vibrant colour. Fresh cherries are stirred into blueberry frozen yogourt to create a refreshing filling. Pina Colada Cherry Pops are another crowd-friendly frozen treat that uses fresh pineapple and coconut water to give Rainier cherries a tropical twist. If you only have vanilla ice cream at home, whip up this low-fat, silky Velvet Cherry Sauce to spoon over top. For a grown-up take on a soda-shop classic, mix up a Cherry Root Beer & Bourbon Float; garnish with whipped cream, shaved chocolate and a cherry for the full diner experience. And Fresh Cherry & Strawberry Sparkling Sangria is the ideal thirst-quencher when entertaining for a crowd.
Pickled and Preserved
Cherry season is short. Freeze, pickle or preserve your pickings to enjoy throughout the year.
Freeze, rinse, dry and pit cherries, then spread them out onto a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, transfer to a dated freezer bag to store for up to one year. To thaw cherries before use, first defrost overnight in the fridge and then place them in a strainer over a bowl so you can save the juice that’s released.
Quick Pickled Cherries use apple cider vinegar and spices like coriander and allspice to make a unique salty take on the sweet fruit that’s great on charcuterie and cheese trays. They’ll keep in the fridge for about two weeks.
Soak the fruit in a bath of sugar and alcohol to make drunken cherries, which make a sophisticated garnish for cocktails or grown-up topping for ice cream. Bourbon or brandy will give the finished product deep, woodsy notes; try vodka or rum for a lighter, more refreshing taste.