Monday, July 13, 2015

When Bad Produce Happens to Good People - Cherries


 You'll just have to take my word for it. These cherries are disgusting.



Sure they look dank, but perhaps you've mistakenly concluded that they are simply moist, or simply freshly washed. In fact they are bruised, rubbery and taste like mud.

Cherries are my favorite fruit, and their season is so fleeting. Maybe that's why I keep buying bags of them - and so often get disappointed. This season's crop so far has been mostly a dud. Huge, glossy Washington State imports and local Union Square Greenmarket crops have been equally tasteless.

No offense, you had no taste. 
My irrational optimism causes me to buy a pound of cherries, even after sampling a not-so-goody -- hey, at least it's better than yesterday's sample! -- leaving me with a pile of cherries that I am loathe to toss out but also reluctant to eat.

Today I found two separate bags in my fridge of has-been cherries. No, make them never-was cherries. But what to do with them?

After sampling one test-case cherry from each bag, I was ready to toss the whole lot. But fate intervened: I had some grapes to roast. Why not try roasting the cherries as well?

Roasting cherries is a bit more taxing than roasting grapes, mainly because cherries have pits, rather tenaciously attached pits. I've never had much call for cherry pitters (my typical pitting method consists of eating the cherry and spitting out the pit) so I don't have a cherry pitter on hand. I pitted these cherries the old-fashioned way: by clawing out the pits with well-scrubbed fingernails. This process left my fingernails a lovely blue-magenta and gave me a second round in which to screen the cherries. Not everyone graduated. 




I preheat the oven to 400 degrees and put foil on a cookie sheet. I spread the pitted cherries on the sheet and let them roast for about 25 minutes.



The roasting softened the cherries and let their juices caramelize.


I removed the cherries from the oven and let them cool until they were ready to use.



Use for what? you may ask. They looked just like frozen cherries that have been defrosted, and they tasted like them too. So I would suggest using them however you might use frozen Bing cherries: in fruit smoothies, cooked with oatmeal, or baked in desserts. Cherry sauce. Cherry clafouti. Sweet cherry pie. Cherry frozen yogurt. Frozen cherry daiquiris.  Any Bing cherry recipe, basically, other than raw and eaten out of hand. 

These cherries were simply too far gone for that: I'm a savant, not a miracle worker. But some days, transforming trash-worthy produce into something usable seems like miracle enough.

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