All About Cherries

Ronni sent me an e-mail with a happy problem–too many cherries!  She writes:  “I am not sure if I am alone in this, but this is the 2nd time in 16 years that I have been lucky enough to get to enjoy the cherries on my cherry tree before the birds and squirrels.  Every year they reek havoc on my tree; broken branches, cherries and seeds strewn everywhere.  I am lucky to get maybe a handful of cherries, if that!  However this year, because of the invasion of the cicadas, I was able to pick 4 huge buckets of cherries.  Now what!?!?!  I can only eat so many. 

Other than cherry pies, what do you suggest I do with them?  I have pitted 4 quarts already and made 1 cherry pie and still have a lot remaining.  Can I freeze them, if so how?  I was thinking of mixing cherries, apples and either peaches or blueberries and making combination type pies.  How long can I keep them in the fridge pitted and unpitted?  I am sure others would like to hear from you on this as well.”

Well, Ronni, first I have to say we gotta love those cicadas!  Obviously, they are 4-star gourmet’ food for the birds, scoring higher than ripe cherries.  There’s no accounting for taste.

Most humans, however, definitely prefer the cherries [with some exceptions]. In answer to your “Now what!” question, I defer to the quintessential authority on cherries, Door County, Wisconsin.  Because the Door is famous for their Montmorency cherry orchards, several scrumptious recipes circulate in the region, a couple of which I will share with you.

First, yes you can freeze them.  Place pitted, firm cherries in a zip lock bag in quantities you would use for cooking or baking.  They keep about a week, pitted, and longer in the refrigerator if unpitted–but we’re talking best quality here.  When they begin to get “mushy,” they are “going over,” as they say.

It is also becoming very popular to dry them, if you happen to have a food dehydrator. [Pit them first.]  I buy the dried cherries when we are in Door County for snacking and as a satisfying addition to tossed salads.  I just made a batch of French Tarragon Chicken Salad with the addition of dried cherries.  The chewy, tart/sweet taste of the cherries was OVER-THE-TOP DELICIOUS with the savory chicken salad.  Yum-a-licious!!!  In a past Cottage Chat newsletter, I shared the recipe for Montmorency Cherry Coffee Cake.  If you would like a repeat of that recipe, comment below.  In the meantime, try these:

Cherry Pancakes

Yield: 10 pancakes (4-5 inches each)

1 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup pitted, tart cherries, drained

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs and buttermilk.  Pour eggs and buttermilk into dry ingredients and stir just until smooth.  Add melted butter to batter and stir to combine.

Pour about 3 tablespoons of batter from the end of a large spoon or pitcher onto a hot, greased griddle.  Cook pancakes until puffed and dry around the edges.  Sprinkle 6 or 7 cherries over each pancake.  Flip cakes and cook other side until golden brown.  Remove cakes from griddle and garnish with a few cherries before serving. 

Cherry Sauce [for meats]

3 cups fresh pitted cherries

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

Salt and pepper, Dijon mustard

Bring cherries, water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until cherries soften, about 5 to 8 minutes.  In a small bowl mix cornstarch with cold water until smooth.  Add to cherries and continue to cook 1 minute longer, stirring constantly.  Season with salt and pepper and Dijon mustard, to taste.  

Serve cherry sauce with baked chicken breasts or grilled pork kabobs for a sweet & savory main dish. 

Hope this gets you started, Ronni.  Others may also have great recipes to share.



About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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2 Responses to All About Cherries

  1. RMower says:

    Thanks for your recipe for Cherry Pancakes! I have just learned that even in Kittery, Maine one can get sour cherries — they appeared yesterday, and I am thrilled. Would you please send your Chat newsletter that includes the recipe for Montmorency Cherry Coffee Cake? Thanks so much….

    • Sharon L. Clemens says:

      For the benefit of all bloggers, let me share the wonderful Montmorency Cherry Coffee Cake recipe again from the White Gull Inn in Door County, Wisconsin! The White Gull is one of our favorite places to visit on vacation on the Door; it is located in the village of Fish Creek.

      1 cup brown sugar
      1 1/2 tb. cinnamon
      1/2 cup chopped walnuts

      2 cups sour cream
      2 tsp. baking soda
      4 cups flour
      1 tb. baking powder
      1 cup [2 sticks] butter, softened
      1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
      4 eggs
      2 tsp. vanilla extract
      2 cups pitted, frozen Montmorency or other tart cherries, thawed and drained

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
      2. To make topping, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts in a small bowl; set aside.
      3. Stir together sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs to creamed mixture, one at a time. Stir in vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add sour cream and flour mixtures alternately to creamed mixture; blend thoroughly.
      4. Spread one half of batter in prepared pan and cover with cherries. Sprinkle one-third of reserved topping over cherries. Spread remaining half of batter on top and sprinkle remaining two-thirds topping evenly over cake. Bake 60-75 minutes. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if cake is browning too quickly. Test for doneness by inserting knife in center. Serve warm. [This coffee cake may also be made with other seasonal fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and apples.]

      I will also add your name to our Cottage Chat newsletter list. Chat arrives in your e-mail mailbox once a week and contains cottage commentary, pictures of cottage lifestyle, and wonderful recipes and projects. Thanks for asking. My updated e-mail address is


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