Now in Stores: California Cherries California's Big Bing Boom!
Each year we anxiously await the start of cherries harvest. The reason why is no surprise - cherries are delicious. Eating right out of hand is the preferred method for consuming fresh cherries. In fact, who among us is able to walk by a display of these mahogany-colored gems in our local grocery stores without wanting to pop one in your mouth and savor this first deliciously, juicy taste of summer?
In California, cherries are one of the first fruits of the summer to harvest. This variety is by far the most prominent produced in the state, although there are others you may see on your store shelves. Bings are easily recognizable - they are big, round and dark red. You’ll start to see this variety as harvest in California begins in early May. By June 1, this will be the major cherry variety in your store. Bing cherries will be plentiful May to June. Yes, the California cherry season is short - but very sweet. So, eat them up while they last. A tip from California cherry growers - freeze them to make the season last even longer.Download How to freeze information (JPG)
Cherry Recipes: Delicious and NutritiousWhen used in recipes, California Cherries can be both simple and extravagant at the same time. As the featured item in a light fruit salad with melons and mint, cherries are elegant and nutritious too. When pairing chocolate and cherries, the duo is virtually irresistible. By adding cherries to the chocolate cupcake recipe featured here, they become so gooey, frosting isn’t even necessary.
Cherries are easy to select and handle because they are ripe and ready-to-eat on your store shelf. Often they come in bags or plastic clamshells, making the purchase as simple as picking up a package and putting it in your cart. But you may want to take two packs- one to eat straight and one to make these delicious recipes. Store ripe cherries in the refrigerator until ready to use. As with all produce, wash cherries under cool running tap water before eating or using in recipes. A variety of simple-to-use devices are available to pit cherries. Or, just slice open with a knife, remove the pit and enjoy!
Fresh Cherry Salad with Melon and Mint
Sweet, fresh cherries make this light, early summer salad equally perfect for a buffet lunch or part of a simple family meal. If possible, use a cherry pitter so cherries can be left whole.
|1/2||small cantaloupe, seeds and skin removed, and cut into 1/2" cubes|
|1/4||honeydew melon, seed and skin removed, and cut into 1/2" cubes|
|1/4||cup minced fresh mint plus mint sprigs for garnish|
|2||tablespoons light honey|
|1 1/2||cups pitted fresh cherries juice of 2 limes|
Put the cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and minced fresh mint in a bowl and turn several times. Put the honey in a bowl with the lemon juice and stir until the honey dissolves, a minute or two. Pour this over the melons and turn several times. Add the cherries, turning them in as well. Pour the lime juice over all, garnish with mint sprigs and serve.
Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes
Cherries and chocolates are well-known as a deliciously decadent combination. Here, the fresh cherries baked into the chocolate soften and release their sweet flavor into the bitter sweetness of the chocolate.
|8||ounces butter at room temperature|
|2||cups all-purpose flour|
|2||teaspoons baking powder|
|1/3||cup unsweetened cocoa|
|1 1/3||cups pitted cherries, halved|
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Cream together the butter and the sugar using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer 4 to 5 minutes, until fluffy and light. Slowly beat in the eggs. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa. Add this to the egg mixture along with the milk and mix just long enough to blend the ingredients, no more than 20 seconds. Fold in the halved cherries, no more than another 10 seconds.
Let rest 10 minutes, then fill greased muffin cups to the brim with the batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove and let cool 10 minutes before unmolding.
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.