The time of the year for buying fresh cherries is happening right now. Prices are affordable and supplies are abundant. But, before you know it, the season will pass and unless you act quickly, you could miss out. That’s happened to me before — but this year, I promised myself that just when prices got as close to being the best they would be, I would buy cherries in quantities sufficient to take on the canning project planned for last year. And, so I did, with the result being eight jars of brandied “maraschino” cherries, a cherry cream cheese pound cake and a fresh cherry pie for last Sunday’s dinner. Of course, sweet cherries are plenty good eaten straight out of hand and, for some, it’s the most anticipated fruit of summer. When you buy cherries, choose those that are shiny, plump and firm, with no signs of mold. (Mold will show up as white spots on the fruit.) Store unwashed cherries in the refrigerator for up to four days, but rinse them before eating. And, for full enjoyment, bring chilled cherries to room temperature before eating. You can freeze fresh cherries, too. Just rinse them, remove the stems and pits and pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, once the cherries have been dried, lay them on a single layer on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 45 minutes before freezing. (Chilled fruit freezes faster, which helps to preserve the cell structure of the fruit.) Once the cherries are chilled, place the cookie sheet in the freezer. When the cherries are frozen, place them in freezer proof plastic bags or containers. Frozen cherries that have been stored in airtight containers, will keep for up to one year.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.