Co-op Blog

Get (Locally) Cherried Away

Revel in the abundance of fresh cherries this season! Swing by the Co-op this week and pick up farm direct organic red Sweetheart and Rainier cherries for only $2.99 per lb, regularly $5.49 – $6.99 per lb. Or stock up on #2 Graded, but practically perfect and delicious, 20 lb boxes of Brownfield Red and Rainier Cherries: now on sale for $27.99 each. Fresh Deal prices only available while supplies last, or through August 7th.

The Co-op sources local, organic cherries from Brownfield Orchards, where Mike Brownfield discusses his philosophy on his Lake Chelan based family farm: “I find it rewarding to grow healthy, tasty fruit for people to enjoy. Since we use organic inputs, I don’t have to worry about our workers or their families being in and around the orchard.” Learn more about the Co-op’s commitment to local and check out our list of Local Suppliers here.

Aside from eating these gems fresh out of hand, explore ways to maximize this year’s cherry harvest. Cherries are a healthful summertime indulgence – rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate and iron. Don’t wait – now is the time to get started.

Selecting & Processing Cherries

Buy cherries that are large, glossy and firm, with even coloring. Avoid soft, mushy or wrinkled ones. Store cherries in plastic or produce bags or storage containers in the refrigerator for up to a week and wash just before preparing. For best flavor, bring them to room temperature before serving fresh.

The cherry is a stone fruit, or drupe, which means it has an outer fleshy skin around a shell or pit or stone, with a central seed inside. Like its cousins – apricots and peaches – cherries contain a large pit that must be removed before (or during) eating.

Preserving Cherries

  • Freezing – You can also freeze cherries: Rinse and drain well, then spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Transfer the frozen cherries to freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to a year. And once you’ve stocked the freezer with cherries, try this Dark Cherry Smoothie for a quick, nutritious snack.
  • Preserving – one of my favorite childhood food memories is of a jar of my Grandma’s homemade cherry preserves. The fruit was pitted, but otherwise whole, and was delicious served over vanilla ice cream. Cherries make luscious preserves, jams and chutney. The preserves can also be used as pie or pastry filling, or as a simple jam spread for toast.
  • Drying – add a boost of vitamin C from dried cherries to your trail mix. Dried cherries add chewy texture, rich color and a sweet bite to all kinds of desserts, like oatmeal cookies or muffins. Use them in savory dishes, such as Wild Rice Stuffing with Apple & Sausage.

Cooking with Cherries

For true cherry lovers, there may be no better way to savor this seasonal fruit than lingering over a bowl of sweet cherries, enjoying them one-at-a-time, in a nice, sunny spot. But cherries are also a stellar addition to oatmeal, parfaits, pancakes, and savory grain salads. Fresh and preserved cherries are versatile ingredients. Substitute dried cherries for raisins or cranberries in most any recipe.

It’s easy to incorporate cherries at any meal or snack and in virtually any dish. Cherries are especially delicious when served with cheese. Fresh, buttery mascarpone or cream cheese, ricotta, brie, chèvre or fresh mozzarella. Read on for some of our staff favorite cherry-centric recipes.

Grilled Chicken with Cherry Chutney

This flavorful cherry chutney transforms ordinary grilled chicken. The chutney is also delicious on lamb, pork and duck. Serve it alongside summery couscous salad studded with grilled vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound fresh cherries, washed and pitted
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (more for spicier chutney)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 6-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts

Directions:  In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 1 hour, stirring frequently to prevent burning and sticking. The chutney is finished once it has thickened and there is almost no liquid.

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and grill 5-6 minutes on each side until juices run clear and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from heat to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes before serving, topped with the chutney.

Classic Cherries Jubilee

Recipe from  Co+op, stronger together

Give cherries center stage with this elegant dessert. Simple, yet impressive, Cherries Jubilee is a sensational way to end a meal. Try the sauce on pound cake or angel food cake. The traditional presentation for Cherries Jubilee is to use brandy instead of apple juice, and then flame (or flambé) the sauce with a long match or brulée torch.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pound fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup cherry juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • Vanilla or chocolate ice cream or other frozen dessert

Directions: Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add sugar. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to brown around edges. Add cherry juice and cinnamon stick pieces. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half. Add cherries, vanilla and lemon zest. Bring mixture to a boil; stir in apple juice and reduce to syrup consistency. For each serving, spoon generous 2 tablespoons of warm cherries and sauce over ice cream.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.