by Melissa Gordon
There are two reasons for which one might be compelled to rise in her sleep, feverishly attempt to scrub her hands clean, and utter the following words: “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! … What, will these hands ne’er be clean?”
The first reason is that the sleepwalker is suffering from guilt-induced madness after abetting several murders for political gain.
The second reason is that she has been de-pitting cherries all evening.
Having no political ambition, I recently experienced the latter. After spending the better part of Friday evening de-pitting a bucket of cherries, my hands were stained so red I was sure by morning I’d be ready to audition for next year’s Great River Shakespeare Festival. Yeah, yeah, I know about those special cherry de-pitting devices. Gimmicks! And trust me, I’ve received all sorts of advice on the fastest way to pit them. Based on the efficacy of this advice, I’d guess that most of it has been handed down by old wives.
No, the best way that I know of to de-pit cherries doesn’t involve gadgets or tricks. The best way is the old-fashioned way. It goes like this:
Gather your friends and family around the kitchen table. (It helps if it’s a hot evening and there’s plenty of ice-cold lemonade to go around.) Divvy up the cherries and go! As the stories roll out, the laughter spills over, and the cheers resound, the pits will magically leap out of the fruit.
So what do you do with all these cherries once you’re done with them? Well, don’t be like me and burn the damn pie! Last year, after spending hours de-pitting cherries, I went ahead and burned the pie! Can you believe it? I was so mad you couldn’t tell whether the smoke was coming from the oven or my ears!
This year I’m going to try something new. Don’t get me wrong. I love cherry desserts, especially cherry pie and cherry cobbler. But this summer I am going to experiment with cherries in my morning yogurt, cherries in my salads, and cherries cooked into a sweet and spicy sauce that’s drizzled over grilled meat, like the following recipe that was recently shared with me.
Cherries – they’re not just for dessert anymore!
• 1 cup chopped pitted sweet cherries
• ¼ cup dry red wine
• 2 cloves minced garlic
• a pinch of each of the following: cumin, black pepper, and crushed red pepper
• Optional: 1-2 Tablespoons cherry jam can be added to the mix if it needs a bit of thickening
Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan, gently crushing the cherries as you do so. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drizzle the sauce over grilled meat for added nutrition, color, and flavor.