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“This is the first week we got cherries,” says Jiri Pospisil of Toigo Orchard, surveying his Union Square Greenmarket stall, laden with berries. They gleam in the sunlight, impossibly red. Matched in perfect pairs, they’re almost too cherry-like to be real.
Jiri shoots me a quizzical look. “We have a lot of different varieties of cherries, so every week from now on is different. You see those tiny ones? We don’t even know what variety that is because they’re such old trees. They’ve been part of the orchard for more than 50 years.”
Look out for plump, glossy fruit with a vivid color and few, if any, blemishes. Eat them wandering around the market, or if you have the willpower to take them home, try adding a handful of pitted cherries to a goat cheese and radicchio salad, or topping a toasted bruschetta with ricotta, cherries, and honey.
Add them to a bowl of farro and arugula, tossed with a lemony dressing.
Roast them alongside a pork loin, marinated in a little honey, cherry juice, and paprika. Use a slug of port to make a quick pan juice.
Add them to chocolate brownie batter.
Marinate them in aged balsamic and use to top cheesecake.
Soak in rum or brandy and serve with great vanilla ice cream, or stir into whipped sweetened cream.
“I love to eat cherries,” says Jiri. “I put them in rum for the wintertime, and my wife bakes with them, but mostly, we love to eat them just the way they are, fresh from the orchard. They’re the perfect fruit.”
If you want to pick your own cherries, there are a lot of orchards within an hour’s drive of the city. Check out Wickham’s Farm (28700 Route 25, Cutchogue, NY), or Terhune (330 Cold Soil Road, Princeton, NJ).