Celebrate the National Cherry Festival All Year Long

The National Cherry Festival is right around the corner and you cannot wait to feast on all the cherry treats you can get your hands on. But what do you do when your huge cherry stash starts to spoil?

Rather than let your cherries go bad or try to speed-eat them while they are still good, you can preserve your cherries and enjoy them until the next Cherry Festival.

There are plenty of delicious and unique ways to preserve your cherries without the typical methods such as canning or preserving as a jam. Here are a few ideas to enjoy Traverse City’s signature fruit year-round:

Frozen cherries

One easy way to extend the life of your cherries while still maintaining all of its natural nutrients is to freeze them, either whole or in halves. When freezing your cherries, place the whole cherries or halved and pitted cherries on a baking sheet and freeze them. Once they are frozen, put them in an airtight bag or container and freeze until used. They make a healthy and refreshing summertime snack!

Dried cherries

Dried cherries are perfect for granola, baked goods, and salads. While a dehydrator comes in handy for drying cherries, you can also dry cherries in your oven. Bake the cherries on a cookie sheet at your oven’s lowest temperature setting for about 5-6 hours or until dry.

Pickled cherries

One unique way to extend the life of your cherries is by pickling them. Pickled cherries are most commonly seen alongside strong cheeses and grilled meats, making it a perfect side or condiment at your barbeque. They also often grace charcuterie boards, tapas, and antipasto dishes. Different recipes can for different combinations of vinegars and spices, such as white wine vinegar with cloves and peppercorns in this recipe.

Cherry ice cream or sorbet

There are almost endless possibilities when it comes to ice cream flavors. Cherries are delicious in flavor combinations such as vanilla cherry, cherry bourbon, and cherry chocolate chip. You can even try this decadent dark chocolate cherry ice cream. As a dairy-free option, try making a cherry sorbet such as this one.

The festivities of the 90th Annual National Cherry Festival kick off on July 2, 2016 in Traverse City. The Festival is jam-packed with a variety of events, most free and family-friendly, throughout the week, including several races, an air show, and the return of the Heritage Parade. The Festival’s concert lineup features Cheap Trick, Billy Idol, Vanilla Ice, and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias. 

You can also whet your appetite for Traverse City cherries and get a full event listing for the National Cherry Festival here.

Editor’s note: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a proud sponsor of the Traverse City Cherry Festival. 

Photo credit: David Jakes

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