A Taste of Home… Our Favorite Ways to Enjoy Cherries

posted by Andrea | 07/11/2018

July means Cherry Season in many places across the country — and it just so happens that TODAY, July 11, is National Rainier Cherry Day (I should clarify that I used Bing cherries in all the recipes for today’s post — but it’s still a fun coincidence!)

Dave and I LOOOOOOVE fresh cherries, and even though Michigan produces tons of cherries (Traverse City Cherries!) I almost always buy Washington cherries from the grocery store.

I realize this might seem somewhat odd; however, as some of you know, Dave is from Washington State (more specifically, the Yakima Valley area), and most of the Washington cherries sold in our grocery stores are directly from Yakima Valley and surrounding areas. As I mentioned in this post a few years ago, Dave had many summer jobs picking and working with cherries — oh the memories!

If you’ve never had Washington cherries, you’re missing out!

Here are a few pictures of the beautiful cherry orchards in Yakima Valley.

source

So I guess for Dave, it’s sort of a “taste of home” when we get fresh Washington cherries.

And thanks to a partnership with Northwest Cherry Growers (a Yakima, Washington, based organization) we recently got a HUGE shipment of delicious sweet cherries, straight from Yakima Valley!

Dave and I were headed to his parents house the day our cherries arrived — so we brought a big bag with us to share.

The rest of the cherries were quickly pitted and frozen, baked into delicious treats, made into fruit compote for yogurt parfaits, or eaten raw as one of our favorite summer time snacks!

My hands were literally stained a reddish-black from all the cherry juice — my nail beds looked like I had just been digging in the dirt, they were so black!

Here’s a link to the cherry pitter I use.

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Did you know…?

There are roughly 65 cherries in a pound.

Cherries were around before any recorded history (they have found pits in stone age caves).

Sweet cherries are found to reduce inflammation. They also strengthen the immune system and can help fight diseases like gout and arthritis!

source: Northwest Cherry Facts and Information

Although eating fresh fruit is a fantastic (and very simple) way to enjoy these delicious morsels, I didn’t want to risk any of them going bad by sitting around for too long. So, as I mentioned above, I tried to use up all the cherries quite quickly.

Here are a few of the recipes I made and how we preserved LOTS and LOTS of cherries for later in the year!

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Baked Cherry Donuts

The very first thing I did with our cherries (besides shove a bunch in my mouth) was to make these delicious baked cherry donuts.

I only made a half batch (which made 6 donuts in the donut pan I borrowed from my neighbor) and it was good I didn’t make more because they were definitely “best fresh”.

The donuts were absolutely FANTASTIC warm from the oven (I made them in the evening) — but the glaze soaked in and they were fairly soggy the next morning.

Frozen Yogurt-Covered Cherries

These are perfect for a quick snack — however, they still have the pit inside, so you’ll need to let them defrost for a few minutes before popping them in your mouth!

  • Wash and dry cherries
  • Dip them in yogurt (vanilla or flavored yogurts taste better than plain)
  • Place on parchment paper
  • Freeze for 20-30 minutes (or longer)
  • Eat and enjoy

Frozen Cherries for Baking

Since I do quite a bit of baking all year long, I figured the best use of these cherries would be to freeze them for later. Fortunately freezing them is a VERY simple process.

  • Wash cherries
  • Remove stem and pit
  • Place into freezer bags
  • Freeze

NOTE: I usually cut my cherries in half before freezing — partially because I like using smaller chunks for baking, but also because there are times when the pit doesn’t actually pop out, so if I cut them in half, I can remove any sneaky pits!

Creamy Chocolate Cherry Bars

I don’t have pictures because they were eaten so quickly… but these bars are a combination of ALL my favorite sweets — cheesecake, chocolate, Oreos, and cherries!

YUM!!!!!

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White Chocolate Cherry Layer Bars

I made a delicious version of my Easy Layer Bars with white chocolate chips, sliced almonds, cherries, and shredded coconut as the “layers” — all with Sweet And Condensed milk poured over top.

They were fantastic!

Cherry Peach Salsa

Dave and I love fresh salsa — although I think it’s just the Cilantro we love so much ๐Ÿ™‚

Either way, we are huge fans of cherry peach salsa — and it really tastes great with fresh peaches and fresh cherries. We were able to get fresh cilantro from our vegetable garden too!

This is roughly the recipe I use:ย 

  • 1.5 c. cherries; chopped & pitted
  • 1 c. peaches; chopped
  • 1/2 c. red peppers; diced
  • 1/2 c. red onions; diced
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro; chopped
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 2 T. lime juice

Mix all ingredients together, enjoy with tortilla chips, on grilled chicken or fish, or just by the spoonful!

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Oh, how we love cherry season!

As of this past winter, Dave has officially lived in Michigan longer than he lived in Washington, and although we are fortunate his family members all live fairly close by now, it’s still a special treat to enjoy delicious fruit that was literally grown just down the road from where he grew up.

I’ll enjoy cooking and baking with our Yakima Valley frozen cherries all winter long, and we’ll anxiously anticipate another bountiful cherry season next summer!

In the meantime, I’d love to know…

What are your favorite cherry recipes?

A big thanks to Northwest Cherry Growers for sponsoring this post and giving Dave a little taste of home and giving me an excuse to do a ridiculous amount of baking!ย 

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17 comments

  1. Joy Allen

    08/18/2018

    I have been following your blog since before your first child was born. When I read this post I was so surprised to find out your husband grew up in the Yakima Valley. We just moved to Yakima from the Midwest about a year ago. It was fun to hear of someone who actually knows where Yakima is. Thanks for the recipes we can use during cherry season. The cherries really are the best out here.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, he lived there his entire life until he moved to MI for college (and then ended up here for good). He has many fantastic memories of Yakima!

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  2. Ana

    07/18/2018

    Enjoying some Yakima Valley (Prosser) cherries as I read this blog post. I grew up there and still visit my family as often as I can. I miss home and all the fresh fruit and veggies available in the Spring/Summer. I am very thankful that my family still send me goodies all summer long.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    lucky you! And hopefully you get to go back and visit regularly??

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  3. Debbie

    07/16/2018

    I love cherries! I live in Spokane and we’re spoiled that cherries are one of the best produce that comes from our state. Of course, the grocery store bought cherries are sometimes a hit and miss. Once I find a good batch though, I make sure I buy just from that store. I’ve never used cherries in recipes before, it never lasts more than a few days eaten fresh. I’ll have to make sure to try your peach/cherry salsa because I also love cilantro. I didn’t see that you put any kind of spicy ingredient so I might have to chop up some jalapeno to add too. I think your family should visit Washington when the kids are older. There’s so much to see and do here. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe you should do a “meet & greet”. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. The Furnshop

    07/13/2018

    These recipes are indeed mouth watering. I simply love all these cherry recipes. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.

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  5. Heather

    07/12/2018

    How cool! Yakima is my very favorite place in the country, and Iโ€™ve traveled quite a bit. My husband and I semi-joke about retiring there someday. So sunny and friendly and beautiful! Canโ€™t beat all the fresh produce and terrific wine, either.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for Yakima! Dave loved growing up there!

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  6. Diana

    07/12/2018

    We love cherries too! And I have a similar cherry pitter that works pretty well.

    My favorite ways to cook with cherries are probably cherry pie filling or cherry cobbler. So delicious in the middle of winter when you’re tired of oranges, apples, and bananas. Sometimes I just make the cherry pie filling (cook with sugar and maybe a little cornstarch) and then make crust “sticks” to dip in the filling–just roll the crust out into a rectangle and cut into strips. I bet cherry freezer jam would be yummy too!

    Frozen cherries are also perfect for cooling off hot oatmeal. They soften just the right amount in the hot oatmeal and bring it down to an edible temperature pretty fast.

    I was going to skip freezing some this year (this would be the week since they are 1.99 at Kroger), but you may have just convinced me to take the time to do it ๐Ÿ™‚ Last year I had the kids pull of the stems and I did the pitting and it worked really well!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good!! Glad I motivated you to stick some cherries in your freezer — you won’t regret it this winter ๐Ÿ™‚

    and I will DEFINITLEY try them on oatmeal — YUMMM!!!!

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  7. Marva

    07/12/2018

    Eating Bing cherries in the summer is one of my favorite childhood memories. My mom would buy two lugs for just the four of us! Theyโ€™ve never made it into a recipe because we loved them so much by themselves. We freeze batches with the seed still in them and then defrost briefly before enjoying our special treat. I donโ€™t have much freezer space but always try to stash a batch because Bing cherries are part of our Christmas brunch tradition!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yum… Christmas brunch! Do you have specific cherry recipes you make just for the Christmas meal?

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  8. Heather Ratliff

    07/11/2018

    I loved my cherry pitter, but I was doing so many cherries for my little ones that I invested in one that did more cherries at a time. Mine does 4 (and holds the pits), but you can find some that do at least 6 at a time.

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  9. Avia

    07/11/2018

    I live a few hours from Yakima and enjoyed seeing “home” pictures in this post. I just ordered the cherry pitter you linked to – why have I never had one of these? We have only been eating cherries raw because I hate removing the pits using only a knife.

    [Reply]

    Olga Reply:

    I pit my cherries using empty glass bottle and a plastic straw. Easy and relatively clean process, since bottle contains all pits… ; )

    [Reply]

  10. Kate

    07/11/2018

    Cherry dump cake! I usually make mine with cherry pie filling but I have made a berry crisp the same way, so I would think it would work with frozen cherries. Basically, you just put the fruit in a 9×13, sprinkle a yellow cake mix over the top, drizzle with melted butter and bake.

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  11. JJ

    07/11/2018

    Everything looks delicious!!! Cherry popsicles would probably be amazing!!!

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