Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Cherries

HYG-5515
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
07/19/2021
Revised 2021: Christine Kendle, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Updated 2010: Julie Kennel Shertzer, Program Specialist, Human Nutrition
Original author: Barbara H. Drake, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

The Ohio cherry season begins in June and runs into July. Cherries can be divided into two groups—sour/tart and sweet. Each can be prepared in a variety of delicious ways, not only as a dessert or snack, but as an ingredient in a main dish or main dish accompaniment. Dark purple and yellow to light red cherries on display in quart containers.

For information on cherry varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.

Selection

  • Fresh sweet cherries should be firm, plump, bright, and glossy, with a full red or purple color and a sweet taste. The degree of darkness depends on the variety.
  • Sour cherries are smaller than sweet cherries and should be firm, bright, and uniformly red.
  • Avoid purchasing over-mature cherries that are soft, dull, seeping, or shriveled.
  • Tart cherries are widely planted in Ohio, and more than 90% are the Montmorency cultivar.
  • Contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for cherry variety recommendations.

Yield

Due to many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is impossible to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.

  • 1 pound fresh cherries = approximately 2 cups pitted
  • 12 pounds of sweet cherries or 15 pounds of tart cherries = approximately 1 peck (8 quarts)

Nutrition

The Dietary Guideline for Americans recommends 2 cups of fruits per day as part of a healthy diet. Cherries are a great way to meet this nutritional requirement: 

  • Consumption of cherries has been linked to reduced inflammation and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cherries contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, polyphenols, potassium, manganese, and copper.
  • Sour cherries are lower in calories and higher in vitamin C and beta-carotene than sweet cherries.
  • The vitamin C and polyphenols in cherries contribute to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Storage

  • Cherries are highly perishable and should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Tart cherries are more perishable than sweet cherries. 
    Close up of dark red cherries in a light green bowl with two cherries displayed prominently on the tabletop outside the bowl.

    Figure 2. Tart cherries are softer than sweet cherries. Photo: hexe_babajaga, Pixabay

  • Sort cherries carefully and place them loosely in a shallow container so that air can circulate. The weight of the cherries on top should not crush those on the bottom.
  • Do not wash cherries before storing.
  • Wash cherries just before use by rinsing gently in cool water. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the fruit.

Serving 

  • Choose sweet cherries as a garnish or glaze for meat dishes.
  • Cherries are a great addition to breakfast. They can be added to yogurt or oatmeal, or made into a syrup for topping pancakes, waffles, or French toast.
  • Cherries make a delicious drink by themselves or blended with other juices. Use a blender to make cherry smoothies or coolers.
  • Make a classic dessert such as cherry ice cream, cherries jubilee, or bake sweet cherries into cakes, cookies, or muffins.
  • Tart cherries are softer than sweet cherries but hold up well during baking. Choose tart cherries for your favorite cobbler, pie, or crisp.

Spicy Cherry Chutney

Source: Produce for Better Health 

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Time: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-pound sweet cherries, pits and stems removed 
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed 
  • ½ cup (1 medium) onion, chopped 
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar 
  • ¼ cup water 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced 
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a large heavy pot, combine all the ingredients, stirring to mix well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 1 hour, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Cool completely.
  2. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Pork Chops with Tart Cherry Sauce

Source: Cherry Marketing Institute 

Yield: 2 servings
Time: 15–20 minutes

Ingredients

  • ⅓ to ½ cup dried tart cherries
  • 2 boneless pork loin chops that are about 1-inch thick
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Cooking Instructions

  1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet on high heat. Add pork chops and brown well for about 3 minutes per side. Remove to plate.
  3. Add onions to skillet and cook until tender, 3–5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, dried tart cherries, orange marmalade, vinegar, and red pepper flakes to skillet. Bring broth to a rapid boil on medium heat until broth is reduced by half, then reduce heat.
  5. Add pork chops to pan and heat to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F.
  6. Serve pork chops with cherry sauce spooned over them.

For information on preserving cherries, go to ohioline.osu.edu or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:

References

Cherry Industry Administrative Board. n.d. “Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce.” Recipes. Accessed July 15, 2021. choosecherries.com/recipe/pork-chops-with-cherry-sauce/.

FoodData Central. n.d. U.S. Department of Agriculture (website), accessed July 15, 2021. fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html.

Kelley, Darshan S., Yuriko Adkins, and Kevin D. Laugero. 2018. “A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries.” Nutrients, 10(3): 368. doi:10.3390/nu10030368. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872786/

National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.

United States Department of Agriculture. n.d. “Cherries.” National Agricultural Library, Food and Nutrition Information Center. Accessed July 15, 2021. nal.usda.gov/fnic/cherries