How to Make the Most of Every Variety of Cherry
When baked into a pie or balanced on a sundae, cherries are as iconic as the American flag. But these small stone fruits, which happen to be Martha's favorite, also offer antioxidants and vitamins when eaten fresh. Enjoy them during the summer, which is when they're at their plumpest and most plentiful. They come in sweet and tart (also known as sour) varieties, and you'll find that most cherries have ruby hues that come from ultra-high levels of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant.
Reap the benefits by eating the fruit often: A couple of handfuls three times a week may slash the risk of heart attacks in women, specifically, by 30 percent over time. The same serving size reduces inflammation, can help prevent cardiovascular disease, and sneaks in some immune-boosting vitamin C.
How to Choose Them
Sweet cherries hit markets as early as May, and sour cherries peak in June and July. Both varieties wind down by August. Look for firm, blemish-free drupes that feel heavy for their size.
How to Store Them
The fruits fade quickly at home, usually within four days, so keep them cold and dry to help them last longer: Refrigerate them in an open container, and rinse just before eating.
Pit Them Like a Pro
To pit cherries, pluck the stem and place the fruit on the opening of a thin-necked container (for example, an empty wine bottle works well). Then push a straw or chopstick through. Pop!
How to Enjoy Them
Stick to fresh cherries for the biggest health hit (they retain antioxidants when dried or juiced, but often with the catch of added sugar). Pair sweet kinds with protein for a well-rounded meal: Toss them with onion, lime juice, and mint or cilantro for a salsa to serve over roasted salmon or grilled tilapia. The tart type is extra-dense in nutrients. Combine dried ones with roasted nuts in an energy-boosting trail mix, or for a double whammy of antioxidants, blend them with frozen ones or cherry juice in a smoothie.
Cool off with this frozen berry dessert, which makes use of five ounces of fresh cherries. They cook with fresh raspberries in a simple syrup and are puréed in a food processor. From here, the fruit purée is then folded into an egg custard and whipped cream and chilled until set.
Roasted Cherries with Tofu "Panna Cotta"
Panna cotta is traditionally made with gelatin, but enjoy this vegan version using silken tofu for a luscious texture. Dress the tofu up with roasted cherries tossed with honey and lemon juice until the fruit has caramelized and is bursting with its juices.
Make this all-American dessert using three pounds of fresh cherries (yes, really!), which are tossed with a little bit of cornstarch, sugar, and lemon juice. The combination creates a thickened, jammy sauce and the lemon juice brightness the sweet mixture.