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Pit Perfect

Turn your cherry pits into dessert and cocktail fodder

It's the height of cherry season, and market tables are piled high with orange-gold Rainiers and bloodred Bings.

But as you work your way through your next pint, here's a tip: Save the pits.

At North Pond, chef Bruce Sherman turns cherry pits into a sweet, nutty, versatile syrup in a few easy steps. As with apricots, the cherry stone holds a small kernel that exudes a rich, almondlike essence when steeped (click here to download the recipe).

It takes nothing more than sugar, water and a bit of cheesecloth to get the best of the pits. And though small, they pack a punch: Sherman says the flavor is even more intense than that of apricot pits.

Currently, he's poaching fresh cherries in the syrup and serving them with a dish of grilled pork loin, blood sausage, rainbow chard and grits. The nutty flavor is ideal for drizzling on fresh fruit and desserts, as well as mixing into cocktails (try it with fresh cherries, mint, gin and a splash of soda).

Sherman's tips: Be sure to use dish towels you don't mind staining. And taste the syrup as it steeps to control its intensity.

Once you taste it, you'll think twice before your next game of spit-the-pit.

North Pond 2610 N. Cannon Drive Chicago IL 60614 773-477-5845

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