Valley Bounty: Cherries

Though there are cherries that are native to North America (Prunus serotine, also known as “wild cherry” or “black cherry”), the kinds we are most accustomed to seeing nowadays are native to Europe and Asia and were imported here by English and Dutch colonists in the 17th century (some of the first imported cherry trees were planted right here in Massachusetts). Today, the market of commercially grown cherries are dominated by cultivars of Prunus avium, aka “sweet cherries”, and Prunus cerasus, popularly known as “sour cherries”, though some smaller growers offer other varieties as well.

Sour cherries, also called “tart cherries”, are best suited for baking. Combine about 2 pounds (with seeds and stems removed) with a cup of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a quarter cup of corn starch for a really simple cherry pie filling (best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

Sweet cherries are the ones you want to go for raw. Just swing by the farmers’ market, get a carton, and eat the whole thing without thinking too much about it. Maybe share them with a friend if you’re feeling generous.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)