It's cherry season and if you have any doubts, take a drive along some country roads. You'll find handmade signs proclaiming CHERRIES! Cherries! (as we did on our drive to Boise yesterday. If you want to get even closer to Mother Nature, you'll find some Pick Your Own orchards are just the place to check out. We found one of those, as well.
So, what to do with all those yummy cherries? After you've munched away and had your fill, it's time to put some up to keep you happy until next summer. Here are my top five favorite ways to work with cherries:
1. Pit them and load them onto cookie sheets to place in the freezer. When they're hard as little red rocks, pour them into coffee cans, snap on the lid and store in the freezer.
2. Cherry jam. This is so good it should be sinful.
3. Freeze them in light sugar syrup.
4. Can them in light sugar syrup.
5. Chop them up and mix them into homemade vanilla ice cream.
You don't have to pit cherries before you freeze them, but it sure makes life easier. Some folks say they don't hold their shape as well if you pit them, but I really, really hate working with pits.
Invest in a cherry pitter. Go in on a timeshare if you need to, but grab this piece of preserving equipment when you see one. It's available at most hardware stores that carry canning equipment. I bought mine about 25 years ago and it's still going strong.
Whether you've got sweet or tart cherries, take advantage of their short season and lay in a good supply. First choice is pit and freeze whole. Then you've got them at hand and can scoop or measure out as many as you need when a recipe calls for them.
How do you use cherries? Leave a comment and share your expertise.
Wednesday: The world's best cherry pie recipe.
Wednesday: The best ever recipe for Cherry Pie (and you can freeze it!)