Cherries: Buying, Storing and Using
Cherry blossoms are a joyful sign of spring. And few fruits announce the arrival of summer like the cherry. From deep garnet to jolly yellow, these small stone fruits are gone almost as fast as they appear in markets. So grab them while you can.
Cherries in their wild form originated around the shores of the Caspian and Black Seas. After its domestication in the 1st millenium B.C., the cherry spread slowly westward.
There are two main types of cherries: sweet and sour. Sweet cherries, Prunus avium, are the type most commonly found fresh in markets. They are primarily used for eating out of hand and can range in color from almost black to bright yellow. Some common varieties of cherry include Bing and Rainer.
Sour cherries (Prunus cerasus) are similar to sweet cherries except that they retain a sharp acidity after ripening that makes them ideal for baking and desserts. Familiar varieties are Morello and Montmorency.
Cherries are primarily available locally for a short period of time in late spring and early summer. Cherries found in supermarkets at other times of the year have either been held in cold storage or shipped from the opposite side of the world, and their quality will be lower.
Buying, Storing and Preparing Cherries
This stone fruit is very perishable. You should keep cherries well chilled in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Use cherries as soon as possible, as they will begin to go soft and mushy fairly quickly. Remove any spoiled fruit to avoid ruining the whole batch.
Rinse cherries before using, and eat them out of hand or pit them with a knife or cherry pitter and use them in recipes.
Cherry Uses around the World
Cherries are especially popular in Central Europe. Hungarians use them for a refreshing cold soup. Schwartzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cake) is a specialty of southwestern Germany. Cherry clafouti is a famous French country dessert. And kirschwasser is a cherry brandy distilled from cherry fruit and pits. Cherries are often used in pie or tart fillings. They can be canned, frozen and dried with excellent results.
This fruit goes well with pork, lamb and game. The flavors of almonds and cherries have an affinity for each other.