Fresh, local cherries are the shining jewels of late spring and summer fruit. Bright, plump, fresh cherries offer a lot of culinary delight—from eating them out of the bag on the way home from the market to putting up a batch of brandied cherries to enjoy when fresh cherries aren't filling up farm stands. It's all covered here.
Learn what to look for at the market, different varieties, and find ways to use your haul below.
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How to Buy Cherries
If you possibly can, taste cherries before you buy them. Sweetness varies farm to farm (tree to tree, really) and week to week. Always look for shiny, plump cherries with fresh green stems and dark coloring for their variety. For specific buying tips see Cherry Varieties.
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How to Store Cherries
Keep cherries, unwashed and stems attached, in a paper bag, loosely-covered container, or loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.
If you want to keep cherries around for longer than a few days, pit and freeze them—no need to defrost cherries before adding them to baked goods.
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How to Prepare Cherries
Rinse cherries with cool water right before using or eating them. To pit cherries, pluck off the stem and insert the end of a medium-large paper clip into the stem-hole. Snag the pit and scoop it out. Sour cherries are the easiest to pit, but with a deft hand and just a little digging and twisting, the paperclip method is perfectly effective for sweet cherries, too. See this Step-By-Step Guide to Pitting Cherries. Use or freeze cherries immediately after pitting.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Simple Cherry Recipes
I'd never suggest that a bowl of fresh cherries wasn't enough all on its own, but sometimes even this cherry-lover likes to mix things up.
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Sour cherries are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and copper.
Sweet cherries contain vitamin C, anthocyanin antioxidants, and melatonin, an antioxidant that fights insomnia and jet lag.