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What to do with Sour Cherries...

I have a massive wild cherry tree in my yard which is currently full of ripe sour cherries. I'm thinking maybe sundried and preserved... Any suggestions on what to do with all these cherries?

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  1. Oh, you lucky, lucky person! I love fresh sour cherries, but don't know anyone with a tree (except you - hint, hint, hint... too bad I live so far away).

    Freezing works well - pit them, spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze, then dump them a plastic bag or container to store them. I like marinating them in liqueur (vodka, bourbon, Amaretto, Maraschino liqueur, whatever), then plopping them in cocktails - beats the pants of those nasty red cherries. And there's always old-fashioned canning and jam-making.

    I'll bet if you ask on the Home Cooking board, you'll get lots more suggestions. Sour cherries are best for baking - sweet cherries get all wimpy and lose their flavour. But I bet you already know that!


    1 Reply
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      Mmm, I like the idea of alcohol preservation. Drunken sour cherries with venison comes to mind not to mention the myriad of drink possibilities. Thanks!

    2. Hungarian sour cherry soup, servecd chilled. Excellent stuff.

      3 Replies
      1. re: hungry_pangolin

        so does that have a lotta paprika in it or what..gotta love chilled soups - what's the recipe?

        1. re: damadchef

          I just made some jelly out of mine. very easy to do. and it looks and tastes great.

          1. re: damadchef

            Here's the only Sour Cherry Soup recipe I've ever used. It's from a cool little cookbook, "The 100 Most Famous Hungarian Recipes," that I bought as a souvenir in Budapest many years ago. It's easy, quite good, and refreshing...and tastes just like the chilled sour cherry soup I enjoyed in Budapest during my hot summer visit. American weight equivalents are from the book.

            500 gm (1 lb., 2 oz) sour cherries, stoned
            150 gm (5 oz) sugar
            Pinch cinnamon
            Lemon peel (I use a couple of grates...maybe an inch long each. Start with one, taste after a few minutes and add more if needed.)
            10 cl (1/2 cup) sour cream
            1 tsp flour

            In 1 1/2 litres (2 1/2 cups) water, combine cherries, lemon peel, cinnamon, and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat and simmer, maybe 20 -25 minutes. (The recipe just says "cook" for "some minutes.").

            Mix the flour and sour cream. Stir in to the simmered soup. Return to a gentle boil and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes. Cool to room temp, then refrigerate.

            I don't see any reason why you couldn't increase this recipe to feed however many you need. I passed a cherry tree in my neighborhood last week, and thought of this soup as I gazed, enviously, at all the beautiful fruit.

        2. I have a tree in my yard, also. I just pit them (the ones that the birds didn't take), sugar them down and add a touch of lemon juice.....put them in plastic containers, and deep freeze. Then have cherries all year long for ... whatever. To make icecream topping,
          topping for New York cheesecake, cherry pies. Have used them for making a Black Forest Cake for a special event. Makes great cake filling and coffee cake! Have used sour cherries to make delicious jam!

          Just put them into the freezer, after pitting. I use an old-fashioned hirpin inserted into the stem end and scoop out the stone. It comes out easily. I'm sure that throughout the year you will find lots of use for cherries.

          I know that cherry trees should be netted. I leave that job up to my DH....but he puts the job off until too late! The birds didn't leave us one cherry from our sweet Bing tree. They are the first ones that birds go for ... even when the cherries show only a slight bit of pink!

          1. There have been a few recent discussions on sour cherries. Here's one: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40705...

            Seems early-ish for sour cherries! Where do you live and would you like to sell some? :-

            3 Replies
            1. re: janeer

              Our sour cherries are ready for picking right now. We Love them, so all we get from our tree is going for cherry jam and into the deep freeze for future use. I live in South Jersey, in a rural area.....however, never see them for sale at any of the farm stands, nor in the grocery stores in my area. We want to keep what our tree produces, and plan on planting another S.C. tree in the fall.

              Any kind of cherries are of benefit to folks who are arthritic. Love eating them just "out
              of hand"!

              1. re: janeer

                "Seems early-ish for sour cherries!"

                I live in Manhattan and just bought some this morning at the local farmers' market. Keep an eye out. If they're not in yet, it won't be long.

                1. re: janeer

                  In the DC area they've been ripening over the past week.

                2. I am forever indebted to galleygirl and Caitlin McGrath for this fantastic buttery tart recipe:


                  You can also make albaloo polo, Iranian rice with sour cherries and almonds. I'm not competent at making it (so you're better of finding a recipe online than getting input from me), but I sure enjoy eating it!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rose water

                    agreed,the gallergirl/sir gawain/etc. cake with sour cherries in FANTASTIC. I'm already planning on making it with some of my tart cherries (which are currently freezing on a cookie sheet in my freezer in the basement, because you gotta make hay while the sun shines!).

                    1. re: rose water

                      aggreed, just made this and posted a response on the link, thanks!

                    2. This is a big tradition in our family: put pitted sour cherries in a saucepan with sugar to taste, bring to a boil, and thicken slightly with cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water. Have this hot cherry sauce on pancakes, French toast, or waffles (even Eggos are fine). The flavor you get will be the absolute essence of cherry.

                      Also, to damadchef: pitting sour cherries to freeze isn't as much work as you think it will be. Just put on some good music and do it. We have tried cherry pitting gadgets but find that a serrated paring knife actually works better. Wear something you can throw away afterwards as the juice spatters and is lethal to all clothing. Freeze in plastic pints with lids as there will be too much juice for plastic bags. We have often frozen fifty pounds of pitted cherries from one tree. They are incomparable for the hot waffle sauce and also for pies and cobblers, and this is a fruit nearly impossible to find commercially frozen.

                      And a discouraging word: I don't know about your wild cherry tree but a cultivated one is likely to have worms in the cherries if you haven't done several stages of spraying, including dormant-spraying. In that case, birds will consider them to be both dinner and dessert....

                      1. My grandmother would make a sour cherry black raspberry pie every year that was so good that I am almost inspired enough to plant my own cherry tree and black raspberry bush...BEST pie I've ever eaten!!!

                        1. My mom introduced me to La Brea Bakery's amazing Chocolate and Sour Cherry Bread. After some poking around, I've found a couple recipes for chocolate bread on allrecipes.com, and the yeast recipes are suitable, but they all call for a bread maker--and I don't have one :(

                          Lucky you with sour cherries! Give the recipes a try and let us know how they work out! It might just be incentive enough for me to buy a bread machine...


                            1. First, my thanks to Old Spice for coming up with the recipe for sour cherry soup. My lame excuse is that it has been a busy weekend in Toronto.

                              I've thought of another use... veal roast! This is a Russian recipe, BTW. Make incisions over the surface of the roast, and in each incision stuff a pitted sour cherry. Season the roast with salt, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. While the roast is cooking, take about a half pound+ of cherries, water and sugar, and cook for about 10 minutes. Use the resulting syrup to baste the roast (with butter and Madeira). add the remaining cooked cherries to the sauce at the end. (Sorry that I'm being vague... I'm doing this from memory.) I know that the seasoning sounds odd, but it's quite good - really.

                              1. I just bought some sour cherries from Door County at my local coop. Apparently it is from a new Hungarian variety that keeps longer. I love sour cherries and use them in cobblers. The thing that's great about them is that they are not so sweet so they balance out the sweetness of the cobbler topping. My grandmother used to make German kuchen with sour cherries. So I think of her when I bake with them.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kary

                                  A sour cherry tree in our neighborhood had abundant fruit this summer (a year after this thread started). One of my friends always makes a sour cherry pie into which she adds some serviceberries that give it a hint of almond flavor. I made what I call a "Double Sour Tart" -- sour cream and sour cherries -- that isn't sour at all. Like many things I cook and bake, it is a melding and an adaptation of recipes that I clipped or found in cookbooks. It is at http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com...

                                2. Send them to us! We should have such a problem...

                                  1. I pit and freeze them in 4 cup portions so that later I can make pies or cherry crisp in the winter as well as making pie now and freezing them, When I get tired of pitting then I make cherry vodka ( a huge hit at Christmas)