Buy & Store
Ontario red tart (a.k.a. sour) cherries are delicate little things, their shelf life all too brief. Luckily for us, each summer—around June or July—cherry farmers process the fruit and pack them in pails ready to use in a bunch of fresh-tasting ways. Life really is a bowl of cherries.
Look for 10-lb (4.5-kg) pails of pitted tart (sour) cherries in your supermarket’s refrigerator or freezer, and don’t be daunted by the size of the pail.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the cherries, measuring them into freezer bags in usable quantities. Six cups (1.5 L) fill a pie but you may want to pack some cherries in smaller amounts for other recipes.
If the cherries are frozen, thaw the pail on the countertop just until you can easily scoop the fruit.
Seal each bag of cherries tightly, squeezing out as much air as possible, label then freeze for up to one year. Thaw the cherries before using, then drain well. It’s wise to check for the odd pit by squeezing the cherries gently with your fingers before adding them to a recipe.
If you’re lucky enough to find fresh sour cherries, buy bright red fruit that’s firm and plump. Refrigerate them for up to five days, without washing. Rinse and pit the delicate cherries just before using.
To freeze fresh sour cherries, pit them then spread out on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then pack in freezer bags and store as for cherries from a pail.