Cherry’s bring back such a great family memory. My great grandma Blanche had a cherry tree in her back yard. I can remember playing out there as a child (we lived only doors away for many years) and I loved picking those beautiful, red, juicy fruits right from the tree.
Of course the pies, jelly’s and jams she and my grandma Jean and mother used to make with these too. My mothers cherry pie with a big ole glob of homemade ice cream is to die for. I loved it straight out of the oven with the ice cream melting all over the pie.
Fresh cherries should be clean, bright, shiny, and plump with no blemishes. Sweet cherries should have firm, but not hard flesh, while sour cherries should be medium-firm. The darker the color, the sweeter the cherry.
Avoid cherries with cuts, bruises, or stale, dry stems. You’ll find stemmed cherries less expensive, but be aware that cherries with the stems intact will have a longer shelf life.
Unopened canned cherries can be stored on the shelf up to a year. Once opened, keep the canned cherries in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within one week. Maraschino cherries will last six to twelve months in the refrigerator. Unopened dried cherries will last up to 18 months.
Allow one cup serving of sweet cherries per person when calculating quantities, less for sour cherries.
Store unwashed cherries in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and wash just before eating. Before eating fresh sweet cherries, leave them out on the counter for a few hours as the flavor is much better at room temperature. Fresh cherries should be consumed within two to four days.
How to Freeze Cherries
You can freeze fresh cherries, but they should be pitted first, otherwise they will take on an almond flavor from the pit. Beware the juice when pitting cherries, as it will stain clothing.
Freeze whole, pitted sweet cherries in 40 percent syrup (4 cups water plus 3 cups sugar) with 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid (or citrus juice) added per quart of liquid.
They may also be pitted and frozen without liquid in plastic bags with all the air removed. Some cooks prefer to freeze separated cherries on a cookie sheet and then pack in bags for freezing.
To freeze sour cherries for pie filling, stir 3/4 cup of sugar into each quart of pitted, whole sour cherries. Pack in rigid airtight containers with 1/2-inch headspace or airtight bags. Frozen cherries will last ten to twelve months in the freezer.
Using a small paring knife cut around the cherry and split it in half. Pick out the pit with your fingers.
There is another way. I am not someone who likes to buy gadgets that are for doing just one thing. Storage space in just about everyone’s kitchen is very valuable, so why waste it on something that can’t perform multiple tasks? However, my cherry pitter breaks that rule!
The pitter, the strange-looking gadget pictured above next to the knife, supposedly can remove the pit from olives as well, but I have never been able to make it work with olives.
But it can remove the pit of a cherry in seconds!
Wash and remove the stem off the cherry. Place the cherry on the curved bit under the spike.
Squeeze the pitter so that the spike goes through the cherry, forcing out the pit.
Just that easy, just that quick!
There are a few things you need to be careful of, however.
If your cherries are really plump and juicy the spike may go around the pit instead of popping it out. Make double sure the pit actually did pop out!
Really juicy cherries sometimes get a bit messy, with juice squirting back at you. Be careful your shirt doesn’t get covered with cherry stains.
When you are through pitting all your cherries, rinse off the pitter and dry it with a dish towel.
There is a little lever on the base of the cherry pitter which will hold it closed and therefore take up less room in your kitchen drawer.