Large, glossy cherries, with stalks attached, more red than yellow; or if the black (Bing) variety, as dark as possible (but without extra-dark, soft overripe spots). Buy organic if you can, as cherries absorb pesticides. Eat within 24 hours of buying; and wash only at the last moment.

Cherries have an exotic flowery taste, with hints of almond from their stones. Try:

  • DELICATE SALADS: Lamb’s lettuce, microherbs, or soft round lettuce with nuts (hazel, almond, cobnut) and soft cheese (goat, cream, fromage frais)
  • ICE CREAM: Stir cherries and flaked almonds into vanilla or praline ice cream
  • DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE: Melt chocolate, dip the cherries, and sip a glass of Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • ETON MESS: Substitute cherries for strawberries; mix them with cream (any type), broken pieces of meringue, and juice from a jar of maraschino cherries
  • CLAFOUTI: Not a lot of people know this, but you can substitute cherries for damsons
  • CHERRY TART: Purists and obsessives might like to bake native Kentish cherries in Jane Grigson’s recipe for English tart
  • BLACK FOREST GATEAU: Make or buy — you knows you wants it. Drink with a fruity sparkling red wine, just for fun

The Greeks discovered cherries as early as 300BC. There is only one thing to do with a sour (Morello) cherry, and that is serve it with duck or lamb — cherry is a great refresher of fatty meat. Hungarians like cherry soup; an interesting (and Barbie-pink!) concept, as suitable for pudding as a starter. Like most berry-like fruit, cherries enjoy various claims to superfood status — most recently, in combating gout, insomnia, and arthritis pain. On the other hand, Kirsch contains traces of cyanide. It might be a case of kill or cure.

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