I must confess that I have inherited my mother's "no cherry left behind" policy. This means if you hand me a full bowl of cherries, I'll be handing back a slightly less full bowl of pits. In the kitchen, I tend to avoid recipes that use dried or canned cherries—which always end up too sweet for my taste—opting instead for the natural sweetness of fresh cherries. This, of course, limits my cherry dessert season to fresh cherry season, but the number of recipes using fresh cherries makes it easy to mix things up while getting my fix.
There are two categories of fresh cherries that you should look out for this summer: sweet cherries and sour cherries. The dark red to black berries you will likely see at the grocery store are sweet cherries such as Bing or Chelan; also look for sweet and juicy Raniers, which are yellow with a blush of red. Smaller, bright red varieties of sour cherries like Montmorency and Morello are mostly found at farmer's markets.
While "short and sweet" describes the availability window for sweet cherries (late May to early August) pretty accurately, their sour counterparts are even more elusive. Sour cherry season typically lasts only two weeks, falling anywhere between mid-June and early August depending on regional climate.
Cherries are nature's original candy, but the cherry-loving staff here at Serious Eats have devised some more creative ways to consume the delicious stone fruit. We've got recipes for both sweet and sour enthusiasts, so flip through the slideshow above or jump straight to a recipe below, then start pitting those cherries and enjoy!
- Cherry Amaretto Tart
- Tartouillat (Cherry and Rum Cake)
- Mini Sweet Cherry Pies
- Cherry Breakfast Crumble
- Black Forest Chocolate Cake
- American Flag Fruit Salad
- Cherry-Vanilla Almond Smoothie
- Old-Fashioned Cherry Pound Cake
- Cherry Butter Cake