Cherries are in season, so now’s the time to take advantage of their immunity-boosting vitamin C and disease-fighting antioxidants. Jenny McCoy, pastry-chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, in New York City, offers suggestions and tips to simplify your shopping and cooking.
Originating in the Pacific Northwest, this slightly firm deep-red gem is a common commercially sold cherry. It’s sweet with a slight tartness, and it’s available now through early August.
GOOD FOR Eating fresh, baking into a quick bread, or using as a topper for poultry or fish
TRY IT In a bowl, mix together ¼ cup pitted, sliced cherries, ½ tbsp minced onion, ½ tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp chopped, fresh French parsley or chives, and ½ tsp red wine vinegar. Serve atop a grilled organic chicken breast or salmon fillet.
This golden-yellow cherry with a red blush is a cross between the Bing and the Van, another sweet cherry. Shoppers often overlook it because it’s easily bruised, but they’re missing out on the fruit’s incredibly sweet flavor. Grown in California and Washington, the Rainier is available throughout cherry season (which ends around August), ripening just after the Bing.
GOOD FOR Eating fresh or adding to salad
TRY IT Top mixed greens with goat cheese, diced apples, and pitted, halved cherries. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Sweet, dark red, and notably firm, the Hudson grows toward the end of cherry season. It’s usually available in only a limited supply from a variety of states, including Michigan, so buy them when you see them!
GOOD FOR Roasting or grilling for a snack or dessert, as the Hudson withstands high heat well
TRY IT In a bowl, toss pitted cherries with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Skewer the cherries, grill for a few minutes until tender, then brush with honey. Use as a topping for Greek yogurt or vanilla-bean ice cream.
Go Tart: Drink Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is a good source of blood pressure– controlling potassium. To enjoy its benefits, bring store-bought tart cherry juice to a boil, remove from heat, and add dried cherries. Let stand until it cools to room temperature, at least 10 minutes. Add the rehydrated fruit to a whole-grain muffin or pancake recipe, and drink leftover juice chilled.
Choose the Freshest + Tastiest Cherries
Choose green-stemmed, already-ripe cherries that have shiny, bright skin and are plump and firm. When picking yellow cherries, look for unblemished ones.
Once your cherries are home, refrigerate them in their perforated plastic bag. Sweet cherries are best within three days but will last up to a week, while tart cherries (e.g., Montmorency) can last as long as two weeks.
Place pitted, de-stemmed cherries on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and store up to six months.