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Mary-Linh Tran

Junior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

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 3 new recipes. To the market, we go!

It’s a funny thing when pop culture infiltrates our eating preferences. For me, cherries had always remained on the periphery of the long-awaited summer fruits. So enamored by sunset-splattered peaches and striped red watermelon, it wasn’t until I plunged into David Lynch’s 90s cult series Twin Peaks that cherries—specifically “damn fine cherry pie”—caught my attention. Now a summer doesn’t go by without me stuffing my face with slices of oozy, viscous double-crust cherry pies.

Sometimes known as pie cherries, sour cherries are tart and tangy, which is why cooking and sweetening them are imperative. Whether they’re stuffed into a pie or simmered into a bright cherry chutney or glaze, sour cherries have a short season—just June and July—so grab a carton while you can before they disappear.

1. When and how to buy sour cherries

It’s easy to spot sour cherries from their sweet counterparts, as they’re smaller, rounder, and generally brighter in color. Look for cherries that are deep scarlet with green stems intact, which help to keep them fresh for longer. They should be shiny and smooth with no bruises or wrinkled peels. Sour cherries are softer and more fragile than sweet cherries, so handle them with care.

2. Storing and preparing sour cherries

While cherries make a wonderful companion for summer picnics, leaving them in the sun will sap them of their flavor, so make sure you get through them quickly to savor their tartness. In fact, cherries need cold temperatures to stay fresh, so store them (unwashed) in the fridge, where they’ll keep for up to one week. Since they can absorb the flavor and odor of surrounding food items, it’s best to store them in an airtight container—no one likes a cherry with traces of garlic or onion! As with most fruits, don’t wash the cherries until just before eating to prevent spoilage.

A great way to preserve this beloved stone fruit is by freezing or dehydrating them. Whether you want to pit and destem before freezing is up to you, just remember to freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet before moving them to a bag or container.

Dehydrating cherries on the other hand is a whole-day activity, but the reward of keeping a taste of summer in your pantry is, in my opinion, very worth it. To dehydrate cherries, first boil water and sugar in a small saucepan for approx. 10 min. Add the cherries in batches and let cook for approx. 3 - 5 min. Remove from heat and let the cherries absorb all the sugary syrup for approx. 8 hr. Spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and oven-dry at 90°C/200°F for approx. 4 - 6 hr. before storing in an airtight container.

3. All the ways to enjoy in season sour cherries

We’re most familiar with sour cherries through desserts like pies, cobblers, cakes, and muffins. But they can also be boiled and simmered down into a thick, jammy sauce that’s sweet and snappy—the perfect accompaniment for grilled meats, vegetables, and even salads. Their tanginess makes them a great addition to cocktails, though I suggest muddling them with some sugar to mellow out their sharpness.

4. What to make next

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

Seared duck breast with cherry-Port wine sauce

Seared duck breast with cherry-Port wine sauce

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Breakfast cherry rolls

Breakfast cherry rolls

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Sour cherry pie

Sour cherry pie

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Zabaglione with sour cherries

Zabaglione with sour cherries

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Easy sour cherry and balsamic roasted chicken with creamy polenta

Easy sour cherry and balsamic roasted chicken with creamy polenta

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German sour cherry streusel cake

German sour cherry streusel cake

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More delicious ideas for you