Everything to Know About Cooking and Shopping for In Season Cherries

The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we’ll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with new recipes. To the market, we go!

To begin, here’s a fun fact: At last year’s cherry-pit-spitting world championship—yep, it’s a thing—the winning cherry put pit flew a whopping 22.52 meters. Cherry season (and with is the pit-spitting practice) begins in May, though in years with a colder winter, it can take a little longer to warm up. In July, sour cherries follow suit. They differ in taste and appearance from their sweet, burgundy colored relations and often have a bright red outer and are every bit as tart as their name suggests.

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1. Hello, My Name is Cherry

A good cherry season comes at no small cost to the growers. The trees must be properly pruned and covered with nets and rain to protect against insects and heavy showers. All to ensure the cherries stay attached to their delicate stems until they are perfectly plump and juicy!

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2. How to Find the Perfect Cherries

There are about 500 varieties of sweet cherries and 250 varieties of sour cherries worldwide, all originating from the Black Sea region where they are still largely cultivated today. Sweet cherries are divided into two groups based on the firmness of their flesh; the soft-bodied black heart cherries and firm-fleshed white heart cherries. Sour cherries are divided into two main groupings: Morello and Amarelle. Color and size vary from bright-yellow and red to deep dark-red and black with flesh ranging from light to dark colored.

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Ripe cherries are firm, shiny, and have smooth skin. The stems should be bright green and stay attached to the cherries during storing and washing. Cracks, bruises, or missing stems can affect the shelf life of the fruit as bacteria can enter these openings.

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3. How to Store Cherries

After purchasing, cherries should be stored in the fridge in a sealable container, as they easily pick up odors from other foods. It's important not to pack the cherries too tightly as this can lead to bruising. To avoid condensation, place a paper towel at the bottom of the container. Properly stored, cherries will keep fresh in the fridge for approx. 3 days.

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4. How to Prepare Cherries

In addition to numerous minerals such as potassium, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron, cherries also contain a good dose of vitamin B and C and folic acid, properties that help boost the immune system, increase red blood cells, and strengthen our bones. Not to mention the red-violet pigment anthocyanin, also found in so-called ‘superfoods’ such as blueberries and sweet potato, which has an anti-inflammatory effect that is believed to help prevent cancer.

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Always remember to wash your cherries thoroughly, as their thin skins mean that in conventional farming they are often treated with pesticides.

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How to pit cherries

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Cherry pits can also be used for making your own heating pack! Wash the cherry pits before using and leave out to dry overnight. Add to a small pillowcase and heat on low in the microwave—and here you have the perfect relief from sore muscles.

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5. What to Make Next

All week long, we’ll be featuring new cherry recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what’s new, then try one for yourself! Here’s where to start:

No-bake cherry tart

No-bake cherry tart

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Whipped ricotta and balsamic cherry toast

Whipped ricotta and balsamic cherry toast

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Cherry parfait with chocolate cookies

Cherry parfait with chocolate cookies

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Chocolate-cherry-oat muffins

Chocolate-cherry-oat muffins

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