How to Buy, Store, and Use Bing Cherries
Cherry season is here!
Some fruits are available year-round in one form or another, but sweet cherries, alas, are only available during late spring to mid-summer, with their peak happening in early summer. This is a shame, because sweet cherries (like the famous Bing Cherry) are so darn delicious – grown in the Pacific Northwest, Bing Cherries are huge, glossy little stone fruits with juicy flesh so dark red in color it’s almost black. Perfect for snacking, these plump, jewel-like beauties are delightfully sweet, but not too sweet, with bright, tangy undertones that make them perfect for eating fresh. That’s the best way to enjoy Sweet Mountain Bing Cherries from Hale Groves, but they’re also wonderful in all kinds of recipes from sweet to savory, including turnovers, pies, cobblers, cocktails and more (if you have any left over to cook with, that is!).
Perhaps it’s a good thing that cherries are so good they get gobbled up quickly, because, in addition to their short season, they’re also pretty perishable. To help you get the most out of your order of cherries, tips and tricks like the ones below will come in handy:
How to Buy Cherries
Selecting cherries can be challenging, which is why Hale Groves recommends you take advantage of our Sweet Mountain Bing Cherries while they’re available – we take all the guesswork out of choosing the best cherries for you! When it comes to comparing our cherries with this you’ll find in a chain grocery store…well, there really is no comparison. We allow our Bing cherries to ripen slowly on the trees in our mountainous Idaho orchards for naturally sweet, premium cherries with a sweet flavor, crispness, and texture you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re too tempted by the sight of the cherries in the produce section to wait, however, do take a few precautions before you buy. Skip fruit that’s bruised or has wrinkled skins, and opt instead for cherries that are firm, plump, and dense with smooth, shiny skins. The color of the skins themselves is not nearly as important as the colors of the stems, which should be bright green (this indicates freshness). The best indicator of a good cherry is its taste – if you can, grab one and give it a bite. The best sweet cherries will be sweet and juicy when you bite into them, with a crisp bite.
How to Store Sweet Cherries
Proper storage is essential for enjoying your cherries at their best if you’re not going to use them right away. These are fruits best stored in the fridge (not on the counter in a fruit basket), and don’t wash them first – letting the fruit get wet can hasten the spoiling process, so you should keep your cherries as dry as possible, only rinsing them with cold water immediately before you use them.
Leave the stems on the cherries and place them in a paper-towel-lined storage container or bag (either paper or plastic). Wide, flat containers are best, and not airtight – you want your cherries to be able to “breathe” a bit.
If you follow these steps, your fresh cherries should last for up to a week.
How to Freeze Cherries
If you want to keep your cherries around longer to use in your favorite recipes you can freeze them – frozen cherries are wonderful in muffins and other recipes, you don’t even have to defrost them first.
Storing cherries in the freezer is easy – wash them first and dry them thoroughly. Remove both the stems and the pits, then spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet so they’re not touching. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for two hours, then transfer the cherries to a freezer-safe storage bag for later use.
How to Pit Cherries
“Pitting” cherries isn’t hard, but it can be a bit time-consuming and tedious (it can also turn your fingertips a deep pink in color!). You can find cherry pitters online or in your local kitchen store for a variety of prices from low to high, depending on the make and model (and how many cherries at a time the tool can pit), but an ordinary paring knife will also do the trick – just score the cherry all the way around before you dig the pit out.
Other simple household items that will help you make short work of pitting cherries include:
- A paper clip. Unfold the paper clip so you have a hook at both ends, insert one end into the cherry and dig around until you can pop the bit out.
- A tin fork. Turn a cheap old fork into a cherry pitter with a pair of pliers! Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to bend the two outermost prongs of the fork all the way down, then bend the remaining two middle prongs at the tips to create a hook. Voila! It works by pushing the hook into the cherry and using it to pop out the pit. If you do it from the bottom, you can leave the stem, making the cherry perfect for dipping into a fondue pot.
- Chopsticks and soda bottles. You’ll need to remove the stems from the cherries first for this method. Place the cherry stem-end down on the mouth of an empty soda bottle, then use the flat end of a chopstick to push through the bottom of the cherry (now on top) so the pit pops out of the stem-end and into the empty bottle. Makes for easy clean-up!
Whether you use a conventional cherry pitter or make your own using one of the above methods, be sure to wash your cherries before pitting them. (And be sure to wash the cherry pitter itself first, too, especially if it’s homemade!)
Ways to Use Cherries (Besides Snacking)
Adding cherries to salads, desserts, ice cream, yogurt, and cereal is a terrific way to use this summer fruit. While sweet cherries are synonymous with pies and cobblers, their delightful fruity flavor can also complement grilled meats and vegetables. Cherries are also wonderful in seasonal drinks and cocktails. Here are some of our favorite ideal for cooking and baking with our Sweet Mountain Bing Cherries:
- Hale Groves Cherry Waldorf Salad
- Hale Groves Cherry Limeade
- Hale Groves Cherry-Flavored Ribs
- Hale Groves Cherry Chocolate Bars
- Hale Groves Cherry & Chocolate Ice Cream
- Hale Groves Cherry Cheese Blintzes
- Hale Groves Cherry Pie
- Hale Groves Cherry Jam
Enjoy Sweet Mountain Bing Cherries Now!
Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a cherry on top! And in addition to being a delicious, seasonal treat, adding a few fresh cherries to your diet can be good for you. Cherries are low in calories and loaded with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. So make the most of summer and load up on sweet Bing cherries while they’re still here!
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