Cherries are in season this month! The little gems are a festive happy fruit, dressed in rich red hues and dainty purples and pinks. Cherry trees are grown in the Northern Hemisphere, cultivated in local groves, or may be found flourishing freely in the wild. They blossom in early spring when many produce roundish plump bodies that hang onto the limbs by stems. Cherries are considered a stone fruit. You’ll experience flavors ranging from mild to deeply sweet, or sour and tart. Nowadays they are shipped worldwide for everyone to enjoy.
Rinse them in cold water, allowing the water to drain off before pitting or using in a recipe. You may also allow them to air-dry while resting on a clean dry cloth. Many people like to pit their cherries by hand, using a spindled paperclip with a hooked end, or by using a cherry pitter, which is vastly easier. It quickly performs the pit removing process without much tearing of the fruit’s flesh.
Vitamins C and A are mainly present along with some dietary fiber. But, while tasty, they do not have an abundance of nutritional value.
This popular fruit is eaten raw, dried, preserved, in compotes and jams, baked in pies, tarts, tartlets, inside pancake batter, brandied, extracted for juice or wine, covered in chocolate or fired-up jubilee alongside a diner’s table by chefs and maitre de’s. They can be found in trail mix, atop desserts, inside cookies, fudges, brownies and pastries, too. A new and exciting way to eat them is in barbeque and chipotle sauces. Savory or sweet cherries are much in demand. Cool off this summer with a cherry smoothie or ice cream. As you can see the choices are numerous, so why not add them to your shopping list and enjoy!
In fact, I did just that when I indulged in this Panna Cotta with Cherries Jubilee during a very special truffle dinner at Stephanic Farm in Istria last week. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for the refreshing dessert by Emeril Lagasse.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 pounds bing cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 oranges, zested
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups cherry brandy
1 1/2 pints vanilla bean ice cream
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves. Add the cherries, orange juice, and orange zest. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. In a small cup, stir the cornstarch and water together to form a slurry. Stir the slurry into the cherry mixture and cook for 1 minute, until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the brandy over the cherries. Place the pan back on the heat and carefully shake the pan several times to ignite the pan. If the pan does not light, use a match to flame the cherries. Divide the ice cream between 6 shallow bowls. Spoon the cherry mixture over the ice cream and serve.