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Recipes for Busy Moms Recipes for Busy Moms

Ingredient of the Week, July 28: Cherries

Posted by on Jul. 28, 2013 at 7:17 AM
  • 9 Replies

        

  Cherries are members of the Rosaceae family, a distant cousin to peaches, plums, apricots and almonds.  

The sweet cherry originated in Asia Minor, in the fertile area between the Black and Caspian Seas, and was probably carried to Europe by birds.

Cultivation of sweet cherries likely began with Greeks, and later Romans, who valued the tree's timber as well as its fruit.

Sweet cherries came to America in 1629 with English colonists, and later to California with Spanish missionaries.

Cherry Selection

Fresh cherries should be clean, bright, shiny, and plump with no blemishes. Sweet cherries should have firm, but not hard flesh, while sour cherries should be medium-firm. The darker the color, the sweeter the cherry.

Avoid cherries with cuts, bruises, or stale, dry stems. You'll find stemmed cherries less expensive, but be aware that cherries with the stems intact will have a longer shelf life.

Unopened canned cherries can be stored on the shelf up to a year. Once opened, keep the canned cherries in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within one week. Maraschino cherries will last six to twelve months in the refrigerator. Unopened dried cherries will last up to 18 months.

Allow one cup serving of sweet cherries per person when calculating quantities, less for sour cherries.

Cherry Storage

Store unwashed cherries in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and wash just before eating. Before eating fresh sweet cherries, leave them out on the counter for a few hours as the flavor is much better at room temperature. Fresh cherries should be consumed within two to four days.

How to Freeze Cherries

You can freeze fresh cherries, but they should be pitted first, otherwise they will take on an almond flavor from the pit. Beware the juice when pitting cherries, as it will stain clothing.

Freeze whole, pitted sweet cherries in 40 percent syrup (4 cups water plus 3 cups sugar) with 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid (or citrus juice) added per quart of liquid.

They may also be pitted and frozen without liquid in plastic bags with all the air removed. Some cooks prefer to freeze separated cherries on a cookie sheet and then pack in bags for freezing.

To freeze sour cherries for pie filling, stir 3/4 cup of sugar into each quart of pitted, whole sour cherries. Pack in rigid airtight containers with 1/2-inch headspace or airtight bags. Frozen cherries will last ten to twelve months in the freezer. 
                                      

                            

Cherry Cooking Tips and Hints

When using cherries in baked goods, you might notice a blue discoloration around the cherries in the finished product. This is due to a chemical reaction between the cherries and alkalines such as baking powder or baking soda. To prevent discoloration, substitute buttermilk or sour cream for milk in the recipe or add an acidic liquid such as lemon juice.

Pure almond extract is a natural companion to cherries. Less than 1/4 teaspoon added to cherry mixtures really brightens the cherry flavor.

When using dried cherries in recipes, you can plump them up just as you would raisins, by covering them with hot water and letting stand about thirty minutes.

Serving Suggestions

Freeze fresh  Cherries and enjoy them lightly frozen, or serve them as treats after your kids’ sporting event.

Serve 2-3  Cherries on a cocktail skewer in a Lemon Drop martini, adding a touch of sweet to a sour drink.

Pit some  Cherries and slice them into lettuce salads with Gorgonzola cheese, for a color - and flavor - combination that can’t be beat.

Dip fresh  Cherries into chocolate sauce, freeze on wax paper, then defrost lightly to serve as a cool summer dessert.

Cherries are perfect in fresh fruit salads. De-stem and take out the pit for an unusually fun fruit in salads. Cherries are best paired with melons, tree fruit and pineapple as a complimentary flavor!

                  

Do you like cherries for eating out of hand? Do you use them in any recipes?

   

by on Jul. 28, 2013 at 7:17 AM
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Replies (1-9):
Kimberly954
by on Jul. 28, 2013 at 1:22 PM

I LOVE cherries!!!!! I need a cherry pitter!

periwinkle163
by on Jul. 28, 2013 at 2:49 PM

 I keep cherries for a snack, I also love them as a jam.

SweetLuci
by Luci on Jul. 28, 2013 at 7:18 PM

 They really are a handy tool. Helps keep the juice off the fingers!This is similar to what I have

  

 I recently saw one I want to get that looks like this:

Quoting Kimberly954:

I LOVE cherries!!!!! I need a cherry pitter!

 

KamsOne
by Jen on Jul. 28, 2013 at 9:58 PM

I love cherries!  I like to just eat them, I don't use them in recipes.

MotoStar
by on Jul. 29, 2013 at 12:38 AM

Cherries were just on sale here, so I bought a bunch!

I serve them as snacks for the kids, put them in yogurt parfaits in the morning and sprinkle a little sugar on them and then put them on top of vanilla bean ice cream! YUM!

gymgirl
by Member on Jul. 29, 2013 at 11:27 AM

I love Cgerries. They taste great and help keep our skin young.

  Healthy and Fit Forever http://cafemom.com/group/118269

goddess99
by Michelle on Jul. 29, 2013 at 5:44 PM
We love cherries but they are way too expensive here. $8 a pound, Crazy!!
newwifenmom
by Bronze Member on Jul. 29, 2013 at 7:07 PM

I used to only like the dark cherries but became allergic. I do make cherry pie for DH though.

SweetLuci
by Luci on Jul. 31, 2013 at 8:59 AM
1 mom liked this

 Aww. That's too bad that you became allergic.

Quoting newwifenmom:

I used to only like the dark cherries but became allergic. I do make cherry pie for DH though.

 

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