It’s official! Cherry season is here. With our first cherry pick scheduled for today, I thought I’d share my next collection of Things To Do With Fruit. Unlike rhubarb, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of non-food things to do with cherries, but that’s okay – half the time when I have cherries, they don’t even make it into a recipe, pie or otherwise.
1) Have Breakfast
2) Bake Something
Make cherry cream coffee cake for tomorrow’s breakfast, or your afternoon tea. Or perhaps cherry cornmeal upside-down cake? Maybe you want your teatime to be more decadent, with cherry dark chocolate chunk scones. At lunch you might like some cherry foccacia. And for dessert, there’s chocolate black cherry tart (gluten free and vegan), or a classic cherry clafoutis.
3) Get Fancy
Cherries can class up just about anything. Once again, I have to mention my mom – her favourite cake is Black Forest, which I try to make for her birthday each year. Next year’s a milestone birthday for her, so I’ll look for something extra decadent, like this Swiss version made with delicate génoise instead of Devil’s food cake (unless Mom reads this and objects). Cherry and coconut are another great pairing, and cherry and goats’ milk coconut mousse looks like a delicious treat. Cherry chocolate affogato will be right at home at the end of a nice Italian dinner.
4) Cool Down
The mild temperatures won’t last forever, so get your freezer ready. You can have your pie in ice cream form (vegan), make coconut cherry chocolate chip ice cream, or pucker up for sour cherry lime sorbet. Don’t have an ice cream maker? You can make raspberry and white cherry yogurt pops, or semifreddo with cola and cherries.
Another refreshing option is cold cherry soup, traditional in Hungary and Poland.
5) Go Savoury
I suppose you ought to eat dinner before dessert? Nah. But if you want to, you’ve got lots of ways to incorporate cherries into your main dishes too!
Cherries make a great addition to salads, such as fresh corn and cherry salad, kale salad with cherries, almonds, ricotta, and cherry vinaigrette, and whole wheat couscous with cherries and arugula. They’re even good as a sandwich filling! The BLC-Squared has bacon, lettuce, chevre and cherries, and this one has chevre, cherries, and arugula.
Summer calls for salsa, so grill some cherries and dip your chips in grilled cherry salsa. Or use it with grilled chicken. Your meat could also get some cherry action with dark cherry BBQ sauce, or make your main dish duck breast crusted with honeyed nuts and brandied cherries, or black cherry and black pepper lamb chops.
6) Make Drinks
Naturally, you’re going to wash all that down with something cherry. Refresh yourself with cherry limeade, put a grown up spin on a classic with hibiscus, cherry, and ginger beer ice cream floats, or jazz up your almond milk with cherries and chocolate (vegan). You can also make a cherry syrup to use in homemade pop! DIY cherry cola, anyone?
On the cocktail front, cherries are great in sangria, and as a sangria devotee, I couldn’t decide whether to include cherry orange sangria or sparkling cherry rose sangria. Cherries are a great addition to a mint julep, they make awesome margaritas, and you can incorporate grilled cherries into a sour, and spice things up with the cherry chipotle cooler.
7) Get Them Tipsy
Cherries soaked in some kind of alcohol make a great addition to cocktails and baked goods. Bourbon is a classic pairing with cherries, but you can use any kind you like. Just throw a bunch of fresh, pitted cherries into a mason jar and cover them with the alcohol, seal the jar and let it sit in a cool, dark place for at least 48 hours. AK, our Pilot Program Coordinator, recommends something at 80 proof. Add bourbon cherries to an Old Fashioned, kirsch ones to Black Forest cake, and any of them on top of vanilla ice cream.
8) Preserve Some
Before you get sick of cherries (is that even possible?!), put some up for when the short season ends. There are a lot of ideas here. Pickled cherries would be right at home on a cheese board or in a salad. Still have rhubarb left? You can make cherry rhubarb jam. Need something elevated? Cherry and sage pinot noir jam. Want another option for your savoury dishes? There’s sweet cherry chutney. Sour cherries make great preserves too, as do honey and rosemary.
And finally, I suppose, if you must have pie, you also can the pie filling and enjoy it all year long