REFRIGERATE IT: After ripe
AT FRESHEST: After ripe, 3 to 7 days in refrigerator
OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. If unripe, store at room temperature out of sunlight. Place in a closed paper bag to hasten ripening. Once ripe, refrigerate loose in the low-humidity drawer or in an open paper bag with nothing stacked on top. Peaches, nectarines, and apricots will become mealy if left in the refrigerator too long. Most cherries are sold already ripe, so you may want to refrigerate immediately.
FREEZING: You have your choice with stone fruit. You can freeze them raw (whole, in halves, or in slices) or cooked. In most cases, you’ll want to remove the pits. Blanch to remove the skins and dip in a lemon juice solution (1 Tbsp lemon juice in ¼ cup/60 ml water; optional) to prevent darkening. Then either (1) place directly on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer to airtight container; (2) place in airtight container, cover with juice or 30 to 40 percent syrup, then seal, leaving ½- to 1½-in/12-mm to 4-cm headspace, depending on the container; or (3) pack into containers, layering with sugar and leaving ½- to 1½-in/12-mm to 4-cm headspace.
To freeze cherries, wash, pit, dry, place separated on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer to an airtight container.
To defrost whole fruit, place in cold water until the skins slide off. Then slice and serve. Cherries frozen whole can be soaked in a bowl of cold water. Defrost cooked preparations in the refrigerator or microwave.
USE IT UP/REVIVAL: Remove bruises; the rest of the fruit can be used.
To prevent browning in stone fruits, toss with some lemon juice after slicing.
The outer shell of the pits can be used to infuse just about any liquid—water (for tea or sorbet), dairy (for cakes or ice cream), or liquor—with a mild fruit flavor. To make a simple syrup, bring 2 cups/240 ml water to a boil with 2 cups/200 g sugar and 1 cup/100 g pits. Let cool and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy in cocktails or sauces.
Inside the pits, there is a kernel that looks like an almond. This “noyau,” as it’s called by the French, contains the dangerous chemical hydrogen cyanide, but can be roasted and then used to impart a bitter almond (marzipan) flavor. It is used in Europe in small amounts to flavor marzipan and amaretto dishes and also to make crème de noyaux liqueur. If you want to use this part of the fruit, be sure to check a recipe from a verified source to be sure you are doing so safely. (Some of the apricots grown in the Himalayas have kernels that can be eaten raw, just like almonds, but most cannot.)