The minute I spied sour cherries at the Mount Vernon Farmers Market last summer, I scooped up two quarts and brought them home, where I immediately faced a dilemma: It was Tuesday, and I had no plans to use the cherries for a pie until the weekend.

I knew they wouldn't last, either on the counter or in the refrigerator. So I used the following method to freeze the cherries until I needed them.

For 2 quarts of cherries:

To clean: Discard cherries with brown spots or discoloration. Carefully rinse the cherries and remove their stems. Pit them over a bowl to capture their juice. Gently toss the cherries in a bowl with 1 cup sugar, letting the mixture stand until the sugar is dissolved, then freeze in a container.

Thaw the cherries and drain them, reserving the juice. Follow the basic cherry pie recipe (or any basic sour cherry dessert recipe such as cobbler or crisp), but reduce the amount of sugar by a third to a half, depending on your preference.

For the reserved sweetened cherry juice: Heat the juice in a saucepan, letting it boil for a few minutes until it thickens slightly into syrup. Allow it to cool slightly, then pour the syrup into a clean glass jelly jar, cover with the lid and refrigerate. The syrup is delicious drizzled over vanilla or chocolate ice cream, as well as waffles, pancakes and French toast. It can also be mixed with club soda, sparkling water or lemonade for a refreshing drink.