Vacation Postcard: Sour Cherries (Redux)
The fruit stands across New York City began to sell red, sweet cherries about a month ago, the first brought from California and the Pacific Northwest. The easiest way to gauge the peak of the season and the distance the fruit has traveled is by watching the price drop. It took a while but we finally got to less than $3.00 per pound in my neighborhood.
But better is the wait for sour cherries. These are locally grown and fragile and will be arriving in our Greenmarkets any day now. Just a year ago I wrote a newsletter about sour cherries but with this fruit being one of the rarest and happiest fruits of summer, I don't think we can be reminded about them too often. I've only ever seen them sold in the city's Greenmarkets.
If you've never bought and cooked with sour cherries because you say, "oh, I'm not a baker and they're only for pies," I found a solution in David Lebovitz's "No Recipe Cherry Jam."
If you have a little patience to pit the cherries -- I use a plain plastic drinking straw to just push the pits out -- you can make a sour cherry jam that keeps in the refrigerator and is so irresistible you'll eat it with a soup spoon. Learning how to can? (See our article about canning.) You can refrigerate some of the jam and can the rest to keep for winter when these cherries will taste like a hot July Saturday afternoon.
For pie makers, there's our recipe for classic Sour Cherry Pie. When made with local, just picked sour cherries, this is possibly the most delicious pie you will ever taste. You can also use the pie dough and the cherry filling to make little sour cherry turnovers, perfect for a summer picnic or to carry to work and make your coworkers miserably jealous.
I'm on vacation and sending this newsletter as a city cook postcard. I still haven't found any sour cherries but I'm on the hunt and will report back once I'm home. Back soon.