Jul 18, 2020

LET’S DISH! Let’s Talk About Cherries

By MaryAnn Miano

Pretty, pink cherry blossoms in spring are beautiful to see, but the fruit they produce in summertime is, well, the cherry on top! Cherries are actually related to fruits such as plums, apricots, peaches and almonds. There are two types of cherries – the sweet and the sour. The sweet cherries we eat raw, but the sour cherries are highly prized for making preserves and cherry pies.

The popular Bing cherry proliferates in the summer. Sweet cherries are picked ripe, ruby-red, tender-skinned and juicy. Bings are large and heart-shaped with a dark, cleft-like skin and white flesh.

Sour cherries produce outstanding pies, cobblers and tarts. They are also the cherry of choice used in jellies, jams, wines and brandies. Most are sold to processors for canning. Easily pitted due to thinner skins, they are ready to be used for baking during late July. Sour cherries come in an array of colors and color combinations. There are those with dark juice and some that are colorless. The taste can be sour, acidic, tart or semi-sweet. Look for a firm and juicy flesh.

Cherries make a great snack. The darker red the skin, the sweeter, while the lighter red skins are generally tarter. Once you begin to eat cherries, you will find them to be quite addictive!

Cherries offer a wonderful dose of antioxidant power, anthocyanins, elagic acid and a little bit of vitamin C. Rinse a bunch of cherries in cold water and snack to your heart’s content. One cup of sweet, pitted cherries is only 97 calories. Try the following recipes for a cheery cherry summertime dessert:

 

CHERRY-BLUEBERRY COBBLER SUPREME

 

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened pitted tart red cherries

1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries

Cherry juice or water (about 2 cups)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup milk

½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar

Powdered sugar (optional)

Ice cream or light cream (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Thaw fruit, if frozen, then drain, reserving juice. Add enough cherry juice or water to fruit liquid to equal 2 cups. If using fresh fruit, measure 2 cups cherry juice or water. Set aside. Grease a 3-quart oval baking dish or 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy; add flour mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth. Spread batter evenly over the bottom of prepared dish or pan.
  3. Sprinkle batter with cherries and blueberries. Sprinkle with remaining ½ to ¾ cup sugar, depending on sweetness of fruit. Pour the 2 cups of fruit juice or water mixture over fruit.
  4. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. (Some of the fruit should sink toward bottom as the cake rises to the top.) Cool about 45 minutes. If desired, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar; serve warm with ice cream or cream.

 

CHERRY SQUARES BAR COOKIES

 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups shredded coconut

One 10-ounce jar cherry preserves

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking pan.
  2. Combine the flour and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the vegetable shortening and sugar. Beat in the egg. Beat in the vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Fold in the coconut.
  4. Press three-quarters of the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Spread the cherry preserves over the dough. Crumble the remaining dough over the preserves.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm and lightly colored on top. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into large or small bars.