It’s summer, and with that comes cherry season. We’re talking about Northwest-grown sweet cherries, to be exact.
These juicy orbs of sweetness are the essence of the season, and once you’ve eaten your fill from a bowl, why not turn them into frozen treats as well? Healthy and refreshing, these popsicles will turn a lazy afternoon into a mini celebration, or top off any meal for an irresistible finish.
What Are Northwest-Grown Sweet Cherries?
From Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana, these dark red cherries (as opposed to the sweet, yellow and blush-colored Rainier variety) are known for their large size and high sugar content, since they’re allowed to hang from the tree just until they’re dark, juicy, and full of sweetness.
When and Where Can You Find Northwest-Grown Sweet Cherries?
From early June through August you’ll find these cherries in most markets across the country. Fresh cherries are one of the last truly seasonal fruits, and that season is fairly brief, so be sure to get your hands on them before time runs out!
Tips for Making Cherry Yogurt Popsicles:
Look for cherries with firm, shiny, and smooth skins and bright green stems. In general, the darker the cherry, the sweeter it’ll taste.
Cherry Yogurt Popsicles are simple to make, but there are a few things to know about the process to set yourself up for success:
Pit the Cherries:
A cherry pitter is the most obvious route to getting the pits out of cherries, but there are a few other options if you don’t have one at home. You could always slice the cherries lengthwise with a paring knife or place the cherry on top of a bottle opening and use a chopstick or a reusable straw to push the pit down into the bottle while containing the mess.
Cook and Purée the Cherries:
To really concentrate their flavor, start by cooking the cherries with a little sugar (a little goes a long way as these cherries are naturally sweet; coconut sugar is also a good alternative) and lemon juice until they soften and release their juices. To avoid having hard, frozen bits of cherry in your popsicles that are difficult to eat, make a smooth purée once your cherries are cool to fold into the yogurt!
Release the Popsicles from the Molds:
If you have hard plastic or metal molds, dip them in warm water for about 30 seconds to release the popsicles. To remove from silicone molds, remove the lid and push each up with your thumbs from the bottom, no warming necessary.
Cherry Yogurt Popsicles
- 1 pound Northwest-grown dark, sweet cherries
- 2 teaspoons sugar, or coconut sugar for a natural alternative
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey, or more, to taste
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Remove and discard the cherry pits and stems. You should have about 3 cups pitted cherries.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir the pitted cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cherries soften and release their juices and the sugar dissolves.
Let cool in a bowl or, to facilitate cooling, pour warm cherries into a zipper freezer bag, seal the bag, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until cool.
2. Puree the cherries
In a blender, puree the cherries and almond extract until smooth.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add more honey to taste if you like your popsicles on the sweet side.
Pour the cherry puree on top. Without overmixing, carefully fold the cherry puree into the yogurt, scooping the yogurt up from the bottom of the bowl and stirring just enough to create a marbled effect.
4. Assemble the popsicles
Leaving a 1/8-inch headspace on the top of each mold to allow for expansion when freezing, spoon the yogurt and cherry puree into each mold.
Wipe the edges of the mold with a paper towel and place the lid on top. Insert the popsicle sticks into the molds, leaving about 2 inches of each stick above the mold. Freeze for 4 or more hours, or until firm.
Place the bottom and sides of the mold in a container of warm water for about 30 seconds. (Do not submerge.) Remove the lid, and release the popsicles from the mold.
Slip the unmolded popsicles into a plastic freezer bag, layering them between parchment paper, and store in the freezer.