From deep red Bings to pink-kissed golden Royal Anns, cherries are a summertime favorite—and a good source of antioxidants.
Season: May through August.
How to Choose Cherries
Look for cherries that are large, plump, and firm, with unblemished, glossy, dry skin in a uniform color, preferably with fresh, greenish stems still attached (which helps prevent spoiling). Bing cherries are the most common sweet variety; the deeper their maroon color, the richer the flavor. Also look for heart-shaped, extra-sweet Rainiers; their skin and flesh are yellow with a kiss of pinkish red. Sweet cherries are best eaten out of hand or gently cooked. For pies or jams, use sour cherries (which are also richer in antioxidants); they’re smaller and rounder, with bright red skin. You can find them at farmers’ markets and gourmet grocery stores.
How to Store Cherries
Cherries are perishable and should be eaten or cooked within a day or two of purchase. Keep them in the refrigerator, unwashed, in a bowl or an open plastic bag. Rinse under cold water just before using. To freeze cherries for up to a year, rinse and drain them thoroughly, spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and freeze overnight, then transfer them to an airtight container.
How to Prepare Cherries
To pit cherries, you can use a dedicated cherry pitter or use a paring knife to slice all the way around the pit, twist off one half of the fruit, then pick out the pit with the knife tip. If looks don't matter, you can smash the cherry with the flat of a chef's knife (as you would garlic), then remove the pit.
How to Use Cherries
Sweet cherries are best for snacking; sweet or sour ones work well in pies, sauces, and jams.
Real Simple Cherry Recipes:
- Steak With Artichoke and Cherry Pepper Sauté
- Dried-Cherry and Italian Sausage Stuffing
- Dried Cherry "Popover"
- Cherry Pie
- Stuffing With Dried Apricots, Cherries, and Pecans
Fruits and vegetables at their peak right now.
Find out what's in season in your area right now, then locate a farmers' market near you.