If youâ€™re a cherry lover, June is your jackpot. For what seems like only a moment, theyâ€™re everywhereâ€”at the farmersâ€™ market, in grocery stores, and at farmstands.
In most parts of the country youâ€™ll find two types of sweet cherries:
Bing cherries, which were first cultivated in the 19th century in Oregon, are the most common sweet variety. Theyâ€™re grown mostly in the Pacific Northwest, with a peak season from early June through mid-August. A deep mahogany red, Bings darken as they ripen, so the darker the cherry, the sweeter the fruit.
Rainier cherries have a creamy yellow and red blush coloring. Often, youâ€™ll find them with some skin discoloration and brown spotting (which indicates a high sugar content), but avoid fruit that appears to be decaying. Not only are Rainiers sweeter than Bings, theyâ€™re also more delicate and have a slightly shorter season.
Look for firm, glossy cherries. The greener the stem of the cherry, the fresher it is. Avoid cherries that are sticky or leaking. Unripe cherries are smaller, lighter in color, and less juicy; they donâ€™t ripen after picking.
Before using, wash and spread them on a clean dishtowel to dry (or lightly rub them with the towel).
Store cherries uncovered at room temperature overnight or for up to five days in the refrigerator.