When you have a bag of cherries on hand, it’s a delight to come up with new ways to use them. They’re easy to incorporate into baked goods and the possibilities are limitless.
A good rule of thumb is that whenever raisins, dried cranberries, or currants are called for, cherries can be substituted. Cherries also pair well with a remarkable variety of sweet and savory flavors. Here are some classic combinations.
- almond & cherry
- chocolate & cherry
- apple & cherry
- lime & cherry
- rosemary & cherry
- goat cheese & cherry
- duck & cherry
But these suggestions only scratch the surface.
The best way to begin baking with dried cherries is to pick a favorite recipe and try adding them.
First, put the cherries in a bowl, pour orange juice over the top, and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. This plumps the fruit and adds a bit of citrus flavor. It also keeps the cherries from pulling moisture from your batter.
If you don’t have orange juice, feel free to experiment with other juices. Water works in a pinch. You can microwave the cherries and liquid briefly to speed up the process, but be careful not to overcook them.
Tart cherries are small, and though they can be chopped, it’s usually easier to leave them whole. Bing and Rainier Cherries are significantly larger, so if you want them to blend into your baked goods, chop them before soaking.
For scones, muffins, cookies, and breads, the cherries can be stirred in after your batter or dough is made.
If you’d like to add dried cherries to a pie (such as apple), soak them well and then stir them into your filling.
If you’re adding cherries to cake or brownies, you can press them into the top of your batter before baking. However, if you leave them exposed to the heat of the oven they may blacken.
Here’s some more information on how to use different varieties of dried cherries.
Dried Bing Cherries are large, dark, and sweet. They are delicious in baked apples, granola, and sauces.
Dried Rainier Cherries are medium in size and delicate in flavor. They pair particularly well with recipes containing almonds or almond extract.
Dried Tart Cherries are hard to beat because they retain such an intense cherry punch even after being baked. In general we recommend using Columbia River Tart Cherries for baked goods. They have some sugar added during the drying process and are slightly plumper. We recommend Totally Tart Cherries (same cherries but without the added sugar) for savory applications. However, either can be used in baking according to your preference.
Plump Bing cherries dried without added ingredients are delicious by the handful or mixed into salads and sauces. We let our cherries hang on the stem a little longer to increase the natural sugar content. No sugar added.
Rainier cherries are noted for their sweet juices and tenderness when dried. An excellent all-around cherry for snacking and baking, the Rainier is an original Washington variety. No sugar added.
Columbia River Tarts are slightly sweetened making them an excellent baking cherry. Use in lieu of raisins and dried cranberries in favorite recipes.