Cherries are the prima donnas of the stone fruit family.
In a time when many fruits are grown year-round, cherries remain persistently seasonal and sensitive to the elements. A late rain or a frost during the spring bloom period can eliminate entire harvests. A good harvest of juicy sweet cherries or plump sour cherries will make the most callous fans forget the travails of seasons past. Cherries vary in color from purple black to creamy white with a rosy blush. Nutritionally speaking, cherries are loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and melatonin, which helps regulate the body’s internal clock. Tart cherries are smaller and best appreciated in sweet treats like pie or jam. Fresh from the tree, pickled, canned, baked, dried or preserved, cherries are a culinary gem.
When selecting cherries, take the time to find only the firmest, plumpest, shiniest fruits. Avoid cherries with dry, brown stems, bruises, cuts or moldy spots. Cherries are highly perishable and must be kept cool until eating. Sour cherries will keep for up to two weeks. All varieties can be frozen successfully.