Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cherry Apricot Salsa

Cherry season is in full swing in New York – from Hamptons road-side stands to suburban barbeques, I’ve been inundated with these juicy, red orbs.

Cherries originated in Anatolia, in what is present day Turkey. They were brought to Rome in antiquity from the town of Cerasus (present day Giresun) from which the word cherry is derived. In addition to their fruit, cherry trees are known for their beautiful flowers.

Most cherry cultivars are derived from the wild cherry; the sour cherry, a separate species, is mostly used for cooking. Cherries contain anthocynanins which are antioxidants that are thought to reduce pain and inflammation. Turkey leads world production of cherries, followed by the United States, Iran, Italy and Russia.

I recently remembered a delicious cherry salsa that my friend Karen made years ago in Boston. It requires some heavy chopping (and pitting cherries, which can be difficult), but is a great starter for an outdoor meal. I made the salsa on Friday for a picnic we had with our friends Annika and Christoph in Carl Schurz Park.

The key to success is to use ripe fruit, especially ripe apricots. Mine were a bit too firm, but the salsa still went over well. You can keep it for up to three days but it is best served fresh. Leftovers can also be used as a tangy complement to grilled chicken.

Remember that cherry juice can stain clothing so don’t wear white. The best way to remove a cherry stain is to put the clothing in boiling water.

3/4 lb ripe fresh cherries, pitted, quartered
3/4 lb ripe fresh apricots, pitted, diced (to size of cherry quarters)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons basil, finely shredded
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon garlic paste or minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl mix cherries, apricots, green onions, basil and thyme.
2. In a small bowl beat together lime juice, orange juice, honey, garlic and salt.
3. Pour juices over fruit and mix well. Store in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to mingle.
4. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.


Karen said...

Of course, if you use it as an excuse to acquire gratuitous kitchen implements, you can get a really cool cherry pitter that makes the prep much faster with the added benefit of being able to shoot pits at your cooking partner!

mhuyck said...

Just make sure your partner is not wearing a favorite shirt before you shoot, though. The cherry juice stains! It's a badge of honor to have pink fingers after preparing this salsa.

mhuyck said...

Haha... I just read through the end of your article. Aly, you think of everything. Thanks for the cherry stain removal advice!