The UK cherry season is short and sweet, spanning only a few weeks in June and July, but don't worry if you miss it. There are other ways you can enjoy cherries by buying them tinned, frozen or dried. Each variation is treated slightly differently in the kitchen, bringing something new in terms of flavour and texture. Follow this easy guide along with our favourite recipes and you'll find yourself enjoying this luxurious fruit all year round.
How to cook with tinned cherries
You can buy tinned cherries in most supermarkets these days. As they are often sold in a light sugar syrup, this type of cherry is best used in desserts. Rather than drain the syrup away, use it as Jamie does in his recipe for Cherry Chocolate Mousse from his 5 Ingredients cookbook by simmering the lot in a pan to a rich syrup and drizzling it onto mousse. Or follow the same principle and spoon it over ice cream or yoghurt, or onto this decadent Gluten-Free Black Forest Cake.
If you're trying to cut the sugar, though, drain the syrup away and throw the cherries into sponges, crumbles, chocolate brownies or these Cherry and Almond Muffins from the brilliant Beginners Get... Sorted cookbook.
How to cook with dried cherries
Dried cherries are very different to fresh cherries, much like raisins are very different to grapes. Dried cherries can be found in most supermarkets and some health food shops. They're wonderful when rehydrated in boiling water until plump and juicy and added to salads, particularly when paired with tangy goat's cheese, such as in this vibrant and colourful salad recipe from Anna Hansen's The Modern Pantry (pictured above). They work just as well in other savoury dishes, such as tagines, Persian stews and couscous salads.
Alternatively, add dried cherries into cakes, muffins or pair them with chocolate in these outrageous Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownies from Baked in America. This all-American inspired recipe mixes sweet almonds and cherries with dark chocolate – an incredible fruit/chocolate pairing that works every time.
How to cook with frozen cherries
If you've got a glut of cherries, you could freeze them to use another day (just remember to de-stone them first) or you can buy pre-frozen cherries in most major supermarkets. You could throw frozen cherries straight into your morning smoothie for a sweet, ice-cold result or, if you want to use them in your cooking, leave them to defrost in the packet or a bowl. One of our frozen cherry favourites is this Croatian Sour Cherry Strudel from Rick Stein: From Venice to Istanbul (pictured above).
The beauty of cooking with frozen cherries is the juice, which you get a lot more of and which will make puddings and bakes stickier and moist. Try this Cherry Bakewell Pudding from Slow Cooked to see what we mean. If you're using the fruit for another recipe, save the juice for using in smoothies or cocktails.
Frozen cherries also work wonderfully when paired with savoury food. Cook them down into a sweet, sticky sauce to serve with pork chops, grilled chicken or pan-fried duck breast. Or throw them into a chilli for a smack of sweetness.