It’s a sure sign we’re solidly into summer when the first cherries arrive from BC. The other day a small grocery store by the dog park had an enormous bowl of them at the checkout, and people were milling about far after they had their groceries bagged, chatting, downing as many as they could. BC cherries always arrive bigger, juicier and meatier than I remember, and the action of working out a cherry pit with your tongue and spitting it into the grass channels decades worth of summer nostalgia.
The only problem with having a bag of perfect cherries on your countertop is deciding what to do with them… we ate at least half, of course. The great thing about cherries is their versatility – they’re not given near enough credit for their amazingness in a salad (yes!!), you can dedicate an entire dessert to them, toss them into the blender with vanilla ice cream for the most amazingly brilliant pink milkshakes (we’ll go back to smoothies in the fall), or add a handful to other fruits – especially stone fruits – in pies, cobblers, crisps and crumble cakes.
Pondering this and future cherry hauls, I plan to stir them into scones (with white chocolate!), roast or braise them with honey and balsamic and pour them over a log of goat cheese, or with sugar for no-bake cheesecakes in jars. And of course they make a stunning clafoutis, Dutch baby and pavlova. I haven’t managed to make ice cream this summer – another one of my favourite things – and I love the idea of deep purple cherries swirled into creamy vanilla. The sweet, soft roasted cherries can be mashed or even pureed, but I love leaving them whole (or even in halves), which don’t freeze solid and can be scooped right through.
So! BC Tree Fruits – a co-op of over 400 BC families who grow cherries, apples, pears, peaches and other fruits, asked me to share a recipe to help spread the word about their Summer Staples contest, which runs until August 4 – share your idea of a summer staple for a chance to win a trip to the Grey Cup in Calgary. Here are the rules, and here’s where to enter!
And here’s that roasted cherry ice cream! If you don’t want to turn the oven on, simmer them on the stovetop with a bit of sugar (and a squirt of lemon juice, if you want to bump up the acidity a bit) until they soften and release some of their juices. Hope you’re having a happy summer!