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Jul 8, 2009 06:32 AM

Fresh Sour Cherries

I'm looking for some tips on incorporating sour cherries into a dinner main course. I think I might try a rif on the classic Persian dish with meatballs, but I'm looking for other options. Any expertise will be greatly appreciated! Thx

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  1. They are woderful with duck or quail - canard Montmorency recipes shou;d be Google-able...I cook quail in a frying pan in butter, just salted and peppered, brown and then cook until done, like 20 mins (I like them cooked through) - then make a little sauce with the pan drippings, deglaze with white wine or whatever's open, tip in a cup or so of pitted cherries and simmer a bit - the cherries will release enough juices to extend the sauce - if too liquid, you can thicken with a bit of cornstarch dissolved in a bit of water. A stylish little main course.

    1. I was exchanging e-mails last evening with a friend who is an excellent, experimental cook and we were joking about how much time we'd been spending the past week or two pitting cherries both to cook and to freeze. She passed along this recipe for sour cherries. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but it sounds marvelous.

      Mix pitted sour cherries with a sauce made of maple syrup (you could use a brown sugar syrup instead), Dijon mustard (an easy tablespoon for about a quarter cup of syrup) and plenty of chopped garlic. Roast in a pan large enough for the cherries to be in a single layer at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the edges of the syrup start to burn. Serve as a sort of chutney with meats.

      20 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        Thanks for the tip, I think I may try and add some rosemary as well.

        I was pitting cherries last night as well, they seem very easy to pit this year, maybe because of the lousy weather, and they were not quite as tart as I like...anyway, I just pulled gently on the stem with one hand and gently squeezed the cherry with the other hand and the pit poped right out, no hair clip this year!

        1. re: geminigirl

          Thanks! I have another pint of cherries left so I will try the chutney suggestion. Last night I tried to make a version of the classic Middle Eastern lamb meatballs with sour cherry sauce. It was based off of this recipe

          and one of Claudia Rodin's recipes. Instead of dried cherries, I used a pint of fresh sour cherries pitted and combined with a cup of water (you could use more water for a saucier sauce) and 1/4cup of sugar (you could use more by I didn't want the mixture to be too sweet as a personal preference). I brought the mixture to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes or so. This was combined with the onion mixture. Also, I changed the spice combo for the meatballs. My meatballs had tons of salt and pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and a touch of nutmeg (I'll bet a pinch of cayenne would have been good too). The meatballs combined nicely with the cherry onion sauce (although a bit more liquid would have been nice) and I served over some plain rice.

          1. re: almcg

            That sounds lovely. I've been socking away in the freezer as many sour cherries as I can stand to pit. I'll have to keep this is mind for Fall when I'll bet it would be a real treat.

            1. re: JoanN

              So, you pit them before you freeze them? Do you freeze them on a tray and then "bag" them? I just bought a pint today at Union Square.

              Both the chutney and almcg's lamb meatballs with sour cherry sauce sound fabulous though. Do you happen to know about what quantity of cherries are used in that chutney recipe? I've never bought these before, and the person buying them ahead of me bought a quart, and said they are wonderful in pies, so I'll have to try that as well. Do you think it would make any sense to just go ahead and make pie filling and then freeze it?

              Edit: And now I've just read buttertart's post and am thinking about the duck breasts in the fridge! Sounds like I'm going to have to go buy a quart myself!

              1. re: MMRuth

                Yes, I always pit cherries, both sour and sweet, before I freeze them. You don't have to, but since I'm going to pit them eventually anyway I just find it more expedient to do it beforehand.

                I put the pitted cherries in a Reynolds Hand-Vac quart bag, suck the air out, and lay it flat on the freezer floor to freeze before moving it to wherever in my freezer it's going to "live" before I get around to using it. If you don't have anywhere in your freezer that's flat, I'd still put them in a baggie of some sort and then put that baggie on a tray to freeze them. Pitting the cherries creates a bit of juice and I wouldn't want to lose that juice to the tray on which I froze the cherries. (Did that make sense?)

                My friend didn't specify a specific amount of cherries for that chutney recipe and I haven't gotten around to trying it yet, but from the amount of syrup I'd guess that about a cup or cup-and-a-half of pitted cherries would be about right.

                Pie filling is probably the most popular use of sour cherries. And although I've never done it, I can't imagine any reason it wouldn't freeze perfectly well.

                I know I've mentioned this elsewhere (too lazy right now to go look for it), but one of my favorite uses for sour cherries is to macerate them in maraschino liqueur and use as a garnish for bourbon Manhattans. There is a problem with them, though. Your guests suck down those Manhattans as quickly as possible to get to the sour cherries. It may require monitoring.

                1. re: JoanN

                  Thanks! I guess I'm going to have to score some more of these before they disappear. Do you remember if they were at the farmer's market near you?

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I recall that last Thursday they had regular sour cherries, but not Morellos. Out in NJ yesterday, so don't know if they still had them, but I'll bet they did.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Hmm - I think I just have regular sour cherries - looked up Morellos and I gather that it is a darker sour cherry? Do you use those in particular?

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Yes, darker and even more sour. And a bit more expensive, also. I buy them when I see them, which isn't often, and buy the regular ones when the Morellos aren't around. I use them interchangeably, but prefer the Morellos if available. I don't know if it's because they have an even shorter growing season or just that they're less common.

                        @Caitlin: Thanks for the reminder of gg's tart. I'd forgotten about that.

                  2. re: JoanN

                    I agree that pie filling is the most common use for sour cherries (and homemade sour cherry pie is a wonderful thing), but if you are thinking dessert, they also combine marvelously with summer stone fruit like peaches or nectarines for a pie or cobbler. I've also made a quick compote of them by cooking with some sugar and water or liqueur or brandy, and had that with lemon sorbet, vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt, etc.

                    I've never used fresh for this, but sour cherries are wonderful in Galleygirl's tart (which is actually a cake):

                    Fresh sour cherries are something I miss since moving back to the west coast. They're just not grown here.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      Not so--I just bought 10 pounds of gorgeous sour Montmorency cherries in Olympia, Washington. A guy who has an 80-year-old tree in his yard was selling them on Craigslist--$1.50 a pound! Sour cherries aren't as easy to find here as sweet ones, but they're out there if you look. The Pacific Northwest cherry crop is huge this year, and I intend to fill my freezer before it's done!

                      1. re: MsMaryMc

                        $1.50!! wow, I paid $3.65 / lb in CT and mine were PYO...I wish they travelled well!

                        1. re: geminigirl

                          And I paid $4.00 for a pint I think!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            We freeze them pitted in plastic takeout containers (the ones with the dark bottoms and translucent tops). My husband adores them and has to have at least 12 of these containers in the freezer by the end of the season, to ensure supply over the year. The darker ones - not sure morellos or no - seem to come out later in the season - which has lasted as long as the third week in August some years (NYC greenmarkets).

                        2. re: MsMaryMc

                          You're right - they're around, but so scarce. Here in CA, if we see them at all, it's for around a week, and you have to keep your ear to the ground. Someone just posted on the SF board that a market near me had some ($3.39/lb.), so I need to get over there fast!

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            I just made GG's cake again with cherries I had recently frozen. I let them drain and then this afternoon drank the juice over ice with a few teaspoons of minted simple syrup - it was so good! Can't wait to eat dinner so I can have some cake!

                            1. re: geminigirl

                              If I get my hands on some of the illusive CA fresh sour cherries, I will try them out in the GG cake. I've only used the bottled ones in the past.

            2. re: JoanN

              I made this last night. I used a little more than a cup and a half of pitted sour cherries, 1/4 cup maple syrup, a little more than a T of Dijon mustard, and three cloves of garlic, chopped, and salt and pepper. I baked this for twenty minutes. There was still a bit of liquid left, and my first taste told me I'd used way too much garlic - so I put the cherries in a bowl with a slotted spoon, trying to pick out as much of the garlic as possible, and then strained the liquid into the bowl and refrigerated. I seared duck breasts, and when I removed them, I had a fleeting thought to pour the cherries into the duck fat and cook them just a little longer. Well, I should have poured out most of the duck fat, so I again removed the cherries with a slotted spoon, adding a little of the liquid, and then poured the rest of the liquid into another bowl.

              Served this with seared duck breasts and favas with finely sliced pancetta. The cherries were delicious - next time I would add a little more mustard, use quite a bit less garlic, and perhaps use 2 cups of cherries. My husband said that this was one of the best meals he's had in a long time. Oh - and we started with fried zucchini flowers, which nibbled on while I was searing the duck breasts.

              1. re: MMRuth

                The whole dinner looks spectacular. Thanks for notes on the chutney.

                1. re: JoanN

                  Thanks - and everything was from the farmer's market - except the pancetta and pantry items.

            3. "Sweet-and-Sour Cherries with Bay Leaves" - to be served with charcuterie, etc.

              I saw this recipe in the NYT Magazine on Sunday:


              2 Replies
              1. re: MMRuth

                THIS is what Iæm talking about! I asked you (MMRuth) about freezing in another post, but chasing the sour cherry mentions brought me to this - exactly what I was looking for. I think I will make some sour cherry syrup, some batches of this recipe, and see if I can try GG's tart/cake for a gathering on Thursday. I love Chowhound.

                1. re: saticoy

                  I did make this about a week ago. I diverged from the recipe a bit by only including some cherries with the stem (the stems fall off v. easily, btw), some unpitted without the stem, and some pitted without the stem. I didn't poke holes in the pitted ones. The cherries are quite good and, indeed, sweet and sour. Although the ones on the stem are v. pretty, I think I'd rather be serving them pitted, so that people don't have to be dealing with the pits. Hmm - I bet these cherries would be good sort of chopped up into a spread for canapes with pate, etc. I have loads of sour cherries pitted and frozen now, and I made a divine crisp a couple of weeks ago with mostly sour cherries, one chopped up peach, one small plum and a handful of leftover blueberries.