Sometimes when it comes to dessert, simple is best. And right now there’s a plethora of deliciously sweet cherries around, the ultimate summertime dessert in my opinion. I couldn’t wrap up summer without featuring cherries as my Ingredient of the Month.
More often than not, whenever I spy in-season cherries at the market, I end up buying a bag and eating half of it (hmm let’s be honest – the whole bag is usually all gone!) by the time I get home. When I can restrain myself, I love trying out new recipes with cherries, or substituting them into dishes that usually call for other stone fruit, such as peaches or plums.
If I’m prepping only a small amount of cherries, I normally just use a paring knife, but here are some handy tips from Whole Foods for other ways to pit cherries. And another tip – lemon juice is a good trick for removing cherry stains from your fingernails after prepping in the kitchen. I’d suggest if you’re even contemplating making your own cherry jam – invest in a good cherry pitter. You (and your hands) will thank me afterwards.
I had a cherry tree in my garden while I was growing up and often dream of having my own one day again. If you’re thinking about growing cherries (they are known to do well in Southern England), here’s a guide to get you started.
Even though you can pick up some bargains towards the end of cherry season, generally speaking they can be an expensive treat (totally worth it in my opinion!). I know it’s tempting to wash all of your newly bought cherries so you can snack on them every time you pass the fridge, but it’s important to only wash cherries right before you eat them (so they don’t spoil).
Remember you can freeze cherries too! It’s always a nice surprise to re-discover a bunch of summer cherries tucked away in the freezer, ready to whip into a scrumptious clafoutis or fruit crumble on a chilly day. Only freeze cherries with green stems (steer clear of brown-stemmed fruit), to increase the chances of the fruit retaining its full flavour. Here are some other tips for storing cherries, to get the most out of the them (especially if they’re a pricey bunch), so they don’t go to waste.
Like most produce, I try and stick to locally grown fare. When possible, aim to support cherry growers in your area by buying local (rather than imported) cherries.
Throughout the summer months in Paris, the markets abound with the most beautiful and succulent cherries. In my book ‘The Little Paris Kitchen’, I had fun deciding which of my favourite cherry recipes to include. I opted for a cherry clafoutis, along with French toast with cherry and basil compote.
Here’s my compote recipe (it’s super easy and can be added to lots of dishes):
Cherry and basil compote
450g frozen pitted cherries
150g icing sugar
A bunch of basil (about 20g)
Place all the ingredients in a pot and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally during this time to help dissolve the sugar. Remove the basil from the compote before serving.
The compote can be made in advance and kept for several days in the fridge (ready to be reheated).
Get creative with cherries whilst they’re in season (the best ones won’t last for much longer!), and try some of these tasty recipes: