No Such Thing as Too Many Cherries

Cherries. Sweet, wonderful cherries. Suddenly, in front of me at the store. Inexplicably inexpensive. What to do with them?

Besides cherry pie and the puff pastry recipe I still love, there are some delightful ways to make the cherries last for a while.

Chocolate-dipped fresh cherries
Chocolate-dipped fresh cherries

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.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach. She has discovered cherry juice as an interesting stain and possible use for ink. To experiment, she is sacrificing many cherries. She smiles as she eats them, they taste of summer memories.