The ancestors of today’s domestic cherries originated in the Caucasus Mountains and were carried to Rome in ancient times. There were no cherry trees in Italy until around 70 B.C., but within 120 years cherry trees would “spread as far as Britain.”
Domestic cherries didn’t become widespread throughout Europe and Britain until the 15th century. However, by the 17th century, cherries were so popular that, like apples, peaches, plums and pears, cherries crossed the wide Atlantic with our Founding Fathers.
The cherry is a stone fruit, in the same family with plums, apricots, and peaches. The majority of edible cherries have been derived from two species: Prunus avium – the wild cherry which is sweet and Prunus cerasus – the sour cherry. Most sour cherries here in theU.S. are grown inMichigan with some growing on the East coast as well, and sweet cherries are grown primarily in the Pacific Northwest andMichigan.
Sweet cherries are generally available between May to August, and sour cherries are available for just a couple of weeks either in mid-June or either July-August – depending on the coolness of the area.
Cherries are one of the very low calorie fruits; yet are rich source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Both sweet as well as tart Cherries are packed with numerous health benefiting compounds that are essential for wellbeing.
HOW TO STORE CHERRIES
- Cherries, known as a “super-fruit”, are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins which aid in the reduction of heart disease and cancer.
- They are one of the few food sources that contain melatonin, an antioxidant that helps regulate heart rhythms and the bodies sleep cycles.
- Cherries are an excellent source of beta carotene (vitamin A). In fact they contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries and strawberries.
- They are rich in vitamins C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.
- Cherries are referred to as “brain food”, aiding in brain health and in the prevention of memory loss.
- Because cherries contain anthocyanins, they can reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis and gout.
- Eating cherries reduces the risk of diabetes.
- Cherries are a good source of fiber which is important for digestive health.
- They are a great snack or dessert choice important for weight-maintenance.
- Because of their powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, cherries are said to reduce pain and joint soreness.
- They are also good source of minerals such as potassium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. Potassium is a heart-healthy mineral; an important component of cell and body fluids that regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
HOW TO BUY CHERRIES
If you possibly can, taste cherries before you buy them. Sweetness varies farm to farm – tree to tree, and week to week. Always look for shiny, plump unblemished cherries with fresh green stems and dark coloring for their variety.
HOW TO STORE CHERRIES
Fresh ripe cherries have a short shelf. Keep cherries, unwashed and stems attached, in a paper bag or a loosely-covered container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.
HOW TO PREPARE CHERRIES
To prepare cherry, remove the stalk, wash them gently in cold water, and pat dry in soft cloth. Ripe ones can be eaten as a whole including skin to get the maximum benefits. Do not eat the pits.
Fresh or dried cherries can also be used in several recipes such as fruit salads, fruitcakes, breads, pie fillings and cookies.
Sour cherries – NUTRITIONAL FACTS
Sweet cherries – NUTRITIONAL FACTS