So Many Cherries, So Few Recipes
June 20, 2008 2:50 PM   Subscribe

What should I do with all of these cherries?

I lucked out, and the house I live in has a cherry tree in the backyard that is bursting with sweet, beautiful fruit. I've already baked three pies, which barely made a dent in the tree's offerings; what else can I do with them before they rot?
I would try making jam, but I am very intimidated by the canning process and do not want to have to purchase anything new (like tongs and jars and whatever else you need to can). However, I've got pretty much everything else in terms of standard kitchen equipment.

I'm not terribly intimidated by complicated recipes. I do like to bake, but I'd like to make something a little different - I have plenty of standard cherry recipes. I also love to cook, so savory dishes would be great as well!
posted by k8lin to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Cherry salsa, nom nom nom.
posted by headspace at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2008

Get one of these things and freeze a whole bunch for cooking with later.

You can also make freezer jam.
posted by dolface at 3:03 PM on June 20, 2008

oops, I meant one of these things
posted by dolface at 3:05 PM on June 20, 2008

Do what my beloved neighborhood bar just did and infuse a batch of whiskey with them. (Method: put cherries and whiskey into suitable jar; wait a week or so.) Cherry-infused Manhattans are the best. As a bonus, you get the liquored-up cherries to use as garnishes.
posted by Skot at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can make and freeze the cherry pie filling. Then all winter long you can pop a zip lock out of the freezer, thaw and cover it with whatever cobbler topping you like.

Or you can send all of the cherries to me.
posted by 26.2 at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2008

One of my favorite restaurants makes an incredible duck confit with goat cheese and cherries. Just a few, and they might be cooked a tiny bit, and the combination is AMAZING.
posted by prefpara at 3:25 PM on June 20, 2008

Clafoutis! There are a million recipes out there. This just happens to be my favorite because of the pronounced almond flavor.

Whatever you do, be sure to pit and freeze as many as you have room for. I peeled, wedged, and froze eight pounds of gorgeous peaches last summer. By the time December and January rolled around and I'd eaten enough pumpkin/ginger/apple/spice desserts to choke a goat, having really marvelous, perfectly ripe fruit waiting on ice was an absolute joy. If you freeze them in a single layer before packing them up in bags or containers, they won't clump up and you'll be able to pull out just as many as you want for smoothies or yogurt or clafoutis all winter.
posted by mostlymartha at 3:41 PM on June 20, 2008

What mostlymartha said, see here.
posted by zippy at 3:48 PM on June 20, 2008

Brandied Cherries are a great thing to have on hand, and make great gifts, too!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:51 PM on June 20, 2008

Cover them with chocolate and/or freeze them.
posted by limeonaire at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2008

One of my favorite restaurants makes an incredible duck confit with goat cheese and cherries.

Absolutely. Stew some cherries with a little port or brandy, use as a sauce with duck or other strongly flavored bird. I've done it--it's great.

Another concept: lepeny. It's a Hungarian coffeecake. The basic idea is: make a cake. Drop a few cherries onto the batter before you put it in the oven. Not too many, or the cake won't hold together. You get cake with cherries baked into it. Easy to do, turns out great. (I have an "authentic" recipe if you're interested, but it works with most easy, basic cakes.)

Oh, and ice cream is always an option.
posted by gimonca at 4:33 PM on June 20, 2008

It's even possible to make cherry liqueur--soak cherries in rum or brandy for about a month or so, then discard the fruit. I've had better luck with strawberries than cherries, but if you have a huge surplus, it might be interesting to experiment with.
posted by gimonca at 4:36 PM on June 20, 2008

Dried cherries are delicious. Pit them first. Better still, halve and pit them so they dry more quickly and evenly.
It's time consuming, but you'll have a treat that's tastier than raisins.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:12 PM on June 20, 2008

Vishnovka, a cherry liquor made from sour cherries and vodka, and presumbly named after the Russian town of the same name, is (or was, when I lived there 30 years ago) very popular in Iran. I've never made it myself, but my family did. I found this recipe on a website:

Place 4-600g of cherries in a 1.5 litre glass bottle, add 700 ml vodka ( the better the vodka, the better the result ), add 1 table spoon sugar. Let sit for at least 3 months, then drain and bottle. Leave this bottle in a warmish spot for another 9-12 months.

Ideally, it's made with sour cherries, but I guess regular cherries will do too.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:01 PM on June 20, 2008

Yeah, are these sour/tart cherries or sweet cherries?
posted by Stewriffic at 6:34 PM on June 20, 2008

Thanks for the ideas so far, everyone. I just finished pitting and freezing 8 cups, but there are still so many more...

They are sweet cherries, which I mentioned in the question, but I heard that you can simply add a good amount of lemon juice to "mimic" tart cherries when you're baking. Wouldn't work with the vodka idea, though.

weapons-grade pandemonium, how would you go about drying the cherries without a dehydrator?
posted by k8lin at 6:46 PM on June 20, 2008

Cherry sorbet is easy, cheap and a tasty summertime treat.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:11 PM on June 20, 2008

k8lin, consider yourself lucky--where I live the birds all get 'em, each and every one!

how would you go about drying the cherries without a dehydrator Any chance you could borrow one from a friend? Maybe put out an APB on craigslist, and promise some dried fruit in return?

We've got a plum tree that makes tons of fruit and the dried plums are a whole different thing than storebought prunes, very yummy...we have an arrangement like that above with another family to borrow their dehydrator when it's plum season.

A final suggestion: maybe there's a Community Fruit Tree Harvest program in your area that will pick the extra fruit and give it to food bank recipients? The page linked above has listing of programs in areas other than Seattle, mainly on the west coast of the US.
posted by Sublimity at 9:11 PM on June 20, 2008

"Sour" cherries are also sweet, so the description wasn't clear to me. The flavor of sweet versus tart cherry is definitely very different. So given that you have sweet cherries, I'm at more of a loss. Pit and freeze would be my recommendation. And gorge right now. Because YUM!
posted by Stewriffic at 9:25 PM on June 20, 2008

Here's my do-it-yourself dehydrator.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:49 PM on June 20, 2008

Don't be afraid of canning jam. Fruits like cherries and strawberries are acidic, so they don't require pressure canning or a water bath.

Find a cherry jam recipe you like. Buy some canning jars, lids and rings. Boil 'em all to sterilize them. Make your jam. Fill jars to 3/4" from the top with hot jam. Wipe any spillage from the jar's mouth & threads, then install lid and ring. Turn jar upside down to cool. After they're cool, check to make sure the jars have a good seal (the lid will be sucked into the jar a bit, like an unopened grocery store jar lid). Presto - homemade jam that'll keep on the shelf for years.

I live in Fresh Produce Heaven; I put up peaches, strawberries and muscadines all summer long.
posted by workerant at 12:17 PM on June 21, 2008

You can dehydrate food using the Alton Brown Method.
posted by radioamy at 6:04 PM on June 21, 2008

If you dry some cherries, make a batch of granola that incorporates almond extract and almonds, and throw dried cherries in at the end. Cherry muffins are also delightful. I usually replace half the vanilla with almond extract and sprinkle slivered almonds on top (I love cherry-almond anything, can you tell?), but an equally good muffin would have cherries and chocolate chips stirred in. (It's super easy to modify any basic granola or muffin recipe to handle these ideas, but if you want something concrete check out the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home book. I've seen it at every decent-sized library I've ever been to, and it has basic recipes for both granola and muffins, along with tips for customizing them.)
posted by vytae at 9:54 AM on June 22, 2008

I would second not being intimidated by canning things. The turning-them-upside-down method workerant describes above does work, but the best bet at long-term storage does involve the kind of processing that it sounds like it intimdates you -- boiling the jars in a hot water bath.

But -- that's what I do, and I dealt with the whole shebang of "do I need to buy the tongs and teh rack and..." question by -- just not bothering. Instead of the special pot to boil the canning jars in, I just use a stock pot. Instead of special jar-lifting tongs, I use a regular soup ladle and a steady hand. Instead of some kind of fancy jar sterilizer, I just wash the hell out of them and then boil them. All you really need to can fruit or jam well enough is the ability to clean your jars really well, the ability to clean your fruit well, and the ability to boil the sealed jars in a pot deep enough for them to have an inch or two of water over them. All the other tools would make things easier, but MacGuyvering a way to do it definitely works (I lived this whole winter on the tomatoes I canned last summer, and I canned them using nothing more than my stock pot, the jars, and a spoon).

It does pay to know the acid levels in what you're working with, though -- some kinds of fruits are low in acids that would retard spoilage, and a simple water bath wouldn't be good enough. But you can usually deal with that by just adding a splash of lemon juice. Fortunately, cherries have just enough acid that you don't need to worry (and I can guarantee this, because I literally two minutes ago just checked that because I'm canning cherries this very morning).

Honestly, give it a shot. You can do it!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on June 24, 2008

« Older Another "What the mutt?" question...   |   In The Dark About Noir Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.