The ingredient of the week is Cherries!! The tasty treat used in everything from pies to savory sauce for venison and steaks.

Cherries are said to have been around since the time of the Ancient Greeks.

There are two main groups of cherries; the sweet. Firm, heart-shaped sweet cherries can range in color from dark red to purplish black (as seen in the picture). They’re delicious for eating out of hand and can also be cooked. One of example of this cherry is the “Bing”, it is my favorite cherry. With its sweet, slightly tart flavor (and when perfectly ripe) dripping with juice. Then there is the “Rainier” cherries, across between the “Bing” and “Van” cherries. “Rainiers” are sweet cherries with creamy-yellow flesh (the other cherry shown in the picture).I find that these cherries tend to look better than they taste, but can add a great mild cherry flavor to salads, salsas and sauces.

While the sour are smaller, softer and more globular than the sweet varieties. Most are too tart to eat raw, but make excellent pies, preserves. Although I prefer to blend both the sweet and the tart when I cook; finding that you end up with a better balance of sweet and tart flavor in your final product.

Another way to do this is to mix sweet cherries with tart strawberries, blueberries or black berries.

Most fresh cherries are available from May (June for sour cherries) through August. Choose brightly colored, shiny, plump fruit. Sweet cherries should be quite firm, but not hard; sour varieties should be medium-firm. Stemmed cherries are a better buy, but those with stems last longer.

Store unwashed cherries in a plastic bag, with a folded sheet of paper towel (to wick away excess moister), in the refrigerator.