Summer doesn’t feel official without digging into a large bowl of shiny, sweet cherries. Cherry season is the highlight of the year for many, but with a short season, June through August, don’t let summer pass by without enjoying a taste of nature’s candy!
Cherries are a stone fruit, which means their soft flesh surrounds a hard center seed, called a pit. Cherries are a member of the rose family and a relative to other stone fruits, such as peaches, plums and apricots.
There are hundreds of varieties of cherries available worldwide, all ranging in size, color and flavor. Cherry color ranges from a yellowish-pink to bright red to a deep black; with their size ranging from half an inch to well over an inch.
With all the varieties of cherries available, there are only two common cherry species: sweet and sour. The sweet varieties of cherries are the most common and include Bing and Rainier cherries. Sour cherries, sometimes called tart or pie cherries, include Montmorency and Morello cherries.
Cherries are low in fat and calories and high in fiber. They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and powerful antioxidants that have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
When choosing cherries, look for ones with the stems attached as this helps them last longer. Cherry stems should be green in color and snap off easily. Fresh cherries should be plump and firm, brightly colored, with smooth, shiny skins. Avoid cherries that are wrinkled, discolored or soft when squeezed slightly.-
Fresh cherries should be stored whole, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. If stored properly, cherries should last for about a week.
Cherries are a delicious fruit that can be enjoyed all on their own, baked into desserts, added to salads, or transformed into beautiful sauces perfect for everything from cheesecake to chicken. To use, remove the stems and pit. This can be done using a cherry pitter or even a decorating piping tip. But use caution, as that bold cherry juice can stain fabrics, countertops, and fingertips.
With cherry season winding down, be sure a gobble up as many cherries as possible over the next few weeks. This pork chop dinner has a luscious balance of sweet, tart, and savory flavor profiles; perfect for an end of summer meal!
Pork Chops with Black Cherry Sauce
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
2 pounds pork chops
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup white onion, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh black cherries, pitted and halved
2 tablespoon red wine
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, then brown in the hot oil until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops to the lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the pork chops are no longer pink in the center, and register 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) on a kitchen thermometer, about 20 minutes.
While the pork chops are baking, melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium heat, and stir in the onion and cherries. Cook until the onion has begun to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the red wine and beef broth, and bring to a simmer. Season with rosemary, and simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper before pouring over the pork chops to serve.-
— Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’s kitchen. She knows how to get food on the table in a pinch while sticking to a budget. Chef Heather serves as a freelance writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.