It’s official. We are having a fresh cherry glut. The price at markets for the sweet red cherries has dropped because in the major states where they are grown, weather conditions made all the trees bloom at the same time and ripen five months later.
Besides cherry pie and the puff pastry recipe I posted on July 7, there are some delightful ways to make the cherries last for a while.
1. Wash them, and leaving their stems and seeds in place, freeze them individually. Looks lovely and the cherries don’t break down as they melt, unless you put them in the microwave. Let them defrost naturally and use them to top desserts, ice cream and parfaits. Just tell your diners that the pits are still there.
2. Wash, pit, and pull off the stems and freeze the pitted cherries individually in ice cube trays. Reserve the juice for color and flavor in fruit smoothies.
3. Dip them in chocolate. To do this, leave on the stems and do not pit. Wash the cherries, let them dry, then dip them in melted chocolate and place on parchment on a cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer. You can also carefully pit the cherries, using a tip from a pastry bag.
4. Simmer them gently in a bit of orange juice and sugar, pour them into small, sealable bags and freeze them. Use in pies, tarts, smoothies, on top of yogurt, ice cream, or angel food cake. Also yummy on cottage cheese.
5. Simmer them in water, until they are soft but not collapsed. Drain any juice. Pack the cherries into canning jars. Mix the juice in equal quantities with Cointreau, an orange liquer. You can also use good brandy. Pour the juice/liquor mixture to cover all the berries. Seal and store in the fridge. Because you are not boiling away the alcohol, this is not suitable for children or those avoiding alcohol. Do not use Triple Sec, the quality and taste are completely different from Cointreau and not suitable for this recipie.
6. Dry them. Wash, dry, pit and stem the cherries. Cut the cherries in half, top to bottom. Place them skin side down on a dehydrator tray and dry at 140 degrees F for 6 to 12 hours, or until they are still sticky and leathery. Do not over-dry. Pack them in plastic bags and keep them in a cool, dry place. (I like the fridge.) Use instead of raisins or cranberries as snacks or in breads, cakes, stuffings. Put in rice or pilaf to serve with fowl.