If you have ever had a fresh bowl of sweet, firm fresh cherries on a hot summer day, than you know how splendid these little fruits are.
Grown for thousands of years throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe, cherries found their way to America with the early settlers in the 1600’s.
Cherries will always be linked with George Washington in the story of his honesty as a young boy in admitting he chopped down the favorite family cherry tree.
There are many hundreds of varieties of cherries- not just yellow and red. There are dark sweet ( Bing, Chelan, Skeen, Lapin, Sweetheart, Regina, black Tartarian, Stella); Blush Sweet (early robin, Stardust, Rainier, Queen Anne) ; and sour (Montmorency, Balaton, Morello). Find the best types that grow in your area and look for them at your farmer’s markets.
One of the most prized eating or dessert cherries are the Rainier cherries – a delicate, hard to grow cherry that is prized for its sweetness and flavor, they are often flown to Japan where they are sold for around $1 per cherry or more! When you find them in your markets, look for cherries with the most red blush on them and a firm texture. They will be the sweetest ones. Actually bottled maraschino cherries are made from Queen Anne or Rainier cherries ( they are dyed red) as their firm texture holds very well in the canning process.
But the most fabulous way to eat sour cherries is to bake them into a dessert or make jam and preserves. Almonds pair well with cherries! Try a French Almond Tart:
Sour Cherry Pie:
As a topping on a Cheesecake:
You can find sour cherries frozen in your grocery stores ( or through mail order) or if you are lucky enough to live in a cherry growing region, at your local farm stand. Enjoy!