How to cook cherries
Sweet cherries are usually kept on hand for snacking in my house, but are also great when roasted or sauteed. I like to use them as a breakfast topping, to make desserts, or tossed in salads. Sour cherries are used for pies and tarts, but occasionally I’ll make chutney.
How to buy cherries
For use in fresh dishes, buy cherries that only give slightly when pressed. These cherries are ripe and will hold their shape a bit better. For pies, jams, or chutneys, they cherries can be softer, riper.
I prefer to buy cherries with green stems still on, so that I can sift through and make sure they do not have bruises or mold. The cherries should also have a glossy sheen. After picking, the cherries will lose the gloss after a few days, or if the cherry is overly ripe, the sheen will be gone. Cherries will not ripen once off the tree so be sure they are ripe when you buy.
How to store cherries
Store in a sealed container and wait to wash until right before you are ready to use. Cherries can mold fairly easily and once they start, it’s easy to lose an entire container.
I have a weakness for cherries, probably because we had a few fruit trees in my childhood yard, one of which was a sour cherry tree. I loved seeing the flowers bud, and then the fruit grow shortly after.
You can find both sweet and tart cherries, but I recommend you figure out which variety would best suit your recipe. I also recommend buying a cherry pitter. Not only does this contain the mess, but also allows you to keep more of the cherry. It’s one of the few single use kitchen tools I keep on hand.
To freeze, pit cherries and toss with a bit of lemon juice, then spread out on a baking tray so cherries are not touching, and freeze. Once cherries are frozen, toss in a freezer safe bag or container. I also love to dry out the fruit to use in granola. This can be done with a dehydrator or you can simply use your oven.