In my opinion, there’s no better treat than a fresh sour cherry pie, brimming with bright-red, plump fruit full of true sweet-tart cherry flavor. Unfortunately, fresh sour cherries are so fragile that most of them end up as canned pie filling rather than appearing in the market. So if you see fresh sour cherries, snap them up. If you buy extra, you can freeze them for another pie or other out-of-season cherry treat.
Plan on using or freezing the cherries within a day or two of bringing them home, and keep them cold until you’re ready to pit them. To freeze the cherries, first divide them into batches of the appropriate weight for the recipe you plan on making later. This way, you’ll have exactly the right amount of cherries and juice ready to go when you need it. Pit the cherries and then freeze them in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. (For pitting cherries, try the Leifheit cherry stoner, $39.99, at Chef’s Catalog www.chefscatalog.com; 800-884-2433). Once they’re frozen, use the parchment to help you transfer the cherries and the crystals of frozen juice to a ziptop freezer bag. When ready to use, thaw the cherries overnight in the refrigerator, and include all the cherry juice in the recipe