When it comes to juicy and mouthwatering summer fruits, there’s only one that can be the cherry on top! You guessed it—cherries are in the spotlight during their whole growing season, which is generally May through August. If you’re clamoring to make a cherry pie or put up some cherry jam, keep reading: We’re going to share our Test Kitchen’s top tips for picking and storing this sweet summer fruit.
How to Choose Cherries
The first step to nabbing the best bag is deciding which kind you’re looking for, since not all cherries are created equal.
If you’re planning on eating them raw, you’re looking for “sweet” cherries. (Their “sour” or “tart” counterparts are more suited for pie filling—or used to make dried fruit.) You’ll find both types at your local grocery store or farm stand:
Sweet: Bing, Skeena, Lapin, Sweetheart and Rainier
Sour: Montmorency is your best bet for sour
To pick the best bunch, look at the cherry’s stem and skin. Much like the nub of an avocado, the stem of the cherry indicates its freshness. Green, unbroken stems are perfect, and you’ll want to avoid anything that looks brittle and brown. If the stem is already rotted, chances are, so is the fruit underneath. No stem? Never fear… you can gauge the quality of the fruit by looking at the cherry itself. The ideal fruit is shiny and plump; wrinkles and discoloration usually mean they’re older. You should look for colors that range from bright red to maroon—unless, of course, you’re buying Rainiers, which are yellow even when ripe!
How to Store Cherries
Once you’ve selected your cherries, it’s important to rush them into a fridge as soon as you can. Cherries are a pretty sensitive fruit—they lose their juicy taste in room temperature environments. They also absorb water when rinsed, so hold off on washing ’em until right before you’re about to eat or bake. Store unwashed cherries between layers of paper towels, but if that’s too much work, focus on keeping them dry and cold at a minimum.
Stored correctly, cherries will last for around a week in the fridge. If you want to keep them longer, consider freezing the fruits in airtight plastic bags. By the time you’re ready to use them in your favorite fresh cherry recipes, they’ll still be juicy and delicious!