Don’t hesitate when you see luxurious, vitamin-packed fresh cherries in your natural market; the season is distressingly short, so snap them up while you can. From deep-red bing to golden Rainier to small, sour Montmorency, all cherries are delicate and delicious. Select firm, plump, and brightly colored fruit, with no shriveling or seeping. Refrigerate loosely (a colander works well); wash just before using. Or freeze on waxed paper in a single layer; then transfer to freezer bags.
To remove pits from large cherries, use a small knife to slit along the natural indentation (hold over a bowl to catch juices). Twist halves and pop out the seed. For tiny sour cherries, unfold a small paper clip halfway to make a hook; dip into stem end to fish out pits.
Fresh sweet cherries are a perfect snack, but they’re also wonderful chopped and added to chicken or tuna salad, folded into ricotta cheese for crepes, and stirred into yogurt or ice cream.
For a flavor twist, try dried cherries in anything calling for raisins: chocolate-chip cookies, cereal or oatmeal, banana bread, rice pudding, and slaws.