If you’ve never had real, natural cherries (aka not artificially-flavored lollipops or bright-red maraschinos), get yourself to the market, ASAP! Cherries have a super-short growing season — in North America and Europe, they’re ready for pickin’ during the month of June alone. Real cherries are infinitely better than the sickly-sweet fake cherry flavoring many of us are used to. The natural taste is slightly sweet, a bit tart, and super refreshing. Get the most out of cherry season with these five summery recipes.

Fig + Cherry Paleo Bites via The Clever Carrot
Serve these no-bake bites for a healthy dessert or a quick paleo snack while traveling or picnicking. The best part of the recipe is its flexibility. Choose a dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, or even chopped apricots) and a nut (hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.) and go to town. Cinnamon, vanilla, coconut, maple syrup, and a tiny sprinkling of chocolate chips add flavor and hold everything together.

Photo: Emilie / The Clever Carrot

Grilled Chicken and Fresh Cherry Salsa via Iowa Girl Eats
Spice up weekday grilled chicken with this fruity and flavorful salsa. Combine fresh raw cherries with diced red onions, lemon, basil, honey, and balsamic vinegar for a sweet and sour topping that makes any grilled meat (or veggies or tofu) a summer all-star.

Photo: Kristin / Iowa Girl Eats

Cherry Coconut Porridge via Greedy Gourmand
Start the day off right with this indulgent but healthy breakfast. Coconut milk, raw cacao, coconut and chocolate shavings, and cherries make this morning dish extra-special (and delicious).

Photo: Greedy Gourmand

Cherry-Berry Frozen Mojitos via Just Putzing Around the Kitchen

Strawberries, cherries, lime juice, and rum — sounds like the recipe for a perfect summery cocktail. It calls for frozen fruit, but you can easily sub in fresh berries (just add more ice). Even without alcohol these drinks are festive, refreshing, and ideal for hot summer nights.

Photo: Just Putzin’ Around the Kitchen

Black Rice Salad with Cherries, Baby Kale, Halloumi, and Mint via Feasting at Home
This colorful salad would make a great side dish at a barbecue or pot-luck dinner. Honestly, we can’t decide what the best part is — kale, cherries, black rice, halloumi cheese, and fresh mint are all so tasty! Be sure to massage the kale (yes, that’s a real thing) to make it extra-tender before digging in.

Photo: Sylvia Fountaine / Feasting at Home

Did we miss any of your favorite cherry recipes? Have a theme you’d like to see on next week’s The Greatist Table? Tell us about it in the comments below or tweet the author @SophBreene.