For many people, the transition from spring to summer is signaled by barbecuing, spending hours at the pool or visiting theme parks. But for me, the start of summer is always signaled by cherries. Every year, my family and I pick pounds and pounds of cherries over Memorial Day weekend, the peak of “cherry season” in California.
When I tell people about this, they ask, “What are you gonna do, make a pie?” I see two problems with this question: One, we pick way more cherries than the amount required for one pie, and two, there’s so much more to do with cherries than making pie! A few of these ideas are outlined below.
Whip up cherry jam
This is the primary reason why my family picks so many cherries. While making cherry jam is a more labor-intensive process than making jam with other fruit due to the need to pit (we recommend using a cherry pitter) and chop the cherries, the end product is most definitely worth it! Having jars of homemade jam around also serves as the perfect gift when you need one on the fly or don’t know the recipient all that well.
Freeze them for smoothies
You typically don’t find cherries in your go-to frozen fruit mix, but this isn’t to say they’re not a great addition to smoothies! Simply wash and pit your cherries, then lay them out on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. Freeze them for a couple of hours and transfer them to plastic sandwich bags to leave in the freezer. You’ll be ready any time you need to switch up your smoothie or when you start craving cherries after the season has passed!
Make simple syrup to put in drinks
The best way to get cherry flavor into your lemonade, cocktails or other cool drinks is to make a cherry simple syrup. It’s as easy as boiling together water, sugar and cherries, then straining the mixture. After that, you’re set!
Prepare homemade maraschino cherries
Trips to your local ice cream shop are looking somewhat different from normal right now. This means it’s the perfect time to make your own maraschino cherries to top your ice cream sundaes or to use as a garnish for drinks! The process is somewhat long but relatively low in labor intensity.
Concoct cherry ice cream
Nothing says summer like ice cream, not to mention homemade ice cream. This cherry ice cream is the perfect refreshing way to welcome in the warmer summer months.
Throw them in your salads
Fruit in a green salad is a little off the beaten track, but is surely a great way to change up your routine! Cherries add the perfect pop of sweetness and tartness, and pair well with chicken, feta cheese and a nice vinaigrette.
As you can see, there are so many other things you can do with cherries rather than making a pie. Be sure to let your creative juices flow as you enjoy this wonderful season!