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How to Cook and Bake with Cherries

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Cherries are a sweet and delicious fresh fruit perfect the summer. Plus, they are nutritious and great to cook and bake with, whether they are fresh, canned or dried. Even though the fresh cherry season is relatively short, the intense flavor and color of Lambert, Rainier and Bing cherries make for a strong showing in summer recipes, from desserts and appetizers, to salads and main dishes.

Choose

Select cherries that are plump, shiny and firm with green stems. Avoid ones with soft or bruised spots, cracks or cuts. Cherries without stems deteriorate faster because of the broken skin.

Store

Cherries are completely ripe when shipped, so they are very perishable. Refrigerate the unwashed fruit immediately. They’ll keep for up to a week.

Prepare

Wash cherries thoroughly. Many people’s favorite way to enjoy the fresh fruit is au naturel—straight off the tree. But adding them to salads, desserts, ice cream, yogurt and cereal is a terrific way to use this summer fruit. If you’re not eating them off the stem, you’ll need to pit them.
  • Use a sharp paring knife to cut open the cherry and remove the pit.
  • Much easier, though, is using a cherry pitter, which in seconds removes the pit, or stone, and leaves the cherry whole.
  • One pound of cherries yields about 2 1/2 cups of pitted cherries.

Freeze

Frozen whole cherries are a terrific frozen treat on a hot summer day.
  • Remove stems, wash and pat dry.
  • Pit the cherries, if desired.
  • Place on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm.
  • Once frozen, cherries can be transferred to freezer containers or plastic freezer bags.

Cook

If you choose to cook cherries to use in a sauce or topping, be sure to cook for just a few minutes so the fruit retains its texture and color. Cook about 3 minutes or until cherries are softened and thoroughly heated.

Types of Summer Cherries

Bing—One of the most popular varieties, Bing cherries have a deep red-purple to almost black color and firm, juicy fruit. They have a sweet, intense flavor that makes them so popular. Look for them in May and June.

Lambert—Lambert cherries are dark red and slightly smaller than Bing cherries. They have a noticeable heart shape and rich, sweet flavor. This summer fruit is available in May and June.

Rainier—Rainier cherries are easily recognized by their shiny yellow and pink-blushed skin. The fruit of this cherry is white and the juice is colorless. They have a delicate, sweet flavor. Peak season is May through the first part of July.

Cherry Recipes

Almond Crumble Cherry Pie
Almond Streusel-Cherry Cheesecake Bars
Turkey and Dried Cherry Salad
Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apple-Cherry Stuffing

Cherry Nutrition Highlights

  • Phytonutrients: Phytonutrients are the healthful plant pigments that give cherries and other fruits and vegetables their brilliant color. They can provide health benefits above and beyond the vitamins and minerals naturally found in produce. In fact, the combination of phytonutrients, fiber and vitamins found in fruits such as cherries helps pack a powerful punch against some illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Specifically, the anthocyanins in cherries seem to have an anti-inflammatory action that may reduce the risk of disease.
  • Antioxidants: Several of the nutrients in cherries, including beta-carotene and Vitamin C, act as antioxidants, potentially protecting cells in the body from damage. In fact, cherries make the top-10 list of fruits with antioxidant power.

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