October 18, 2018
Cherries: Sweet and Tart

Cherries: Sweet and Tart

by Berkeley Wellness

Sweet, tart, and juicy, cherries are a highly popular fruit. In fact, cherries are so popular that U.S. growers produce more than a billion pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year. Cherries are drupes, or stone fruits, related to plums and more distantly to peaches and nectarines. They are in season briefly, from May into August, depending on the state in which they’re grown. But during that time, they are in abundant supply.

There are two basic types of cherries: sweet and sour. Sweet cherries are usually eaten raw. Sour cherries are usually eaten cooked, most often in baked goods. Dried sour cherries are also used in soups and pork dishes, and to make a type of syrup called "spoon sweet," which is used to flavor beverages.

Types of Cherries

Sour cherries are usually red. Sweet cherries have greater variation in color—some are dark-skinned and others light-skinned. Dark-skinned sweet cherries far and away dominate the market, with Bing being the most popular in this category. Bing cherries are usually available from the end of May through early August, with their peak in

Cherries: Nutrition

Cherries are a perfect snack: Low in calories, rich in flavor and nutrients, and requiring hardly any preparation. They contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that is noted for helping to lowering cholesterol. Cherries also provide vitamin C. Sour cherries (sometimes called "pie" cherries) are lower in calories and higher in vitamin C and beta-carotene than sweet cherries. One cup of sweet cherries has only 87 calories, a cup of sour cherries only 52 calories. Both sweet and sour cherries supply a good amount of potassium.

The intense color of cherries is due, in part, to the pigment anthocyanins, which are flavonoids that researchers theorize may have health benefits, though nothing is yet proven.

For a full listing of nutrients, see Cherries in the National Nutrient Database.

How to Choose the Best Cherries

Buy cherries that have been kept cool and moist, as flavor and texture both suffer at warm temperatures. Take a few cherries at a time in your hand and select only the best. If possible, taste one. Good cherries should be relatively large (often an inch or more in diameter), glossy, plump,

How to store and freeze cherries

Loosely pack unwashed cherries in a refrigerator container, or pour them into a shallow pan in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap. Store them in the refrigerator. Fresh cherries in good condition should keep for up to a week, but check them occasionally and remove any that have begun to go bad.

You can extend the cherry season by freezing them. Rinse and drain the cherries thoroughly, either remove the pits or not, then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cherries to a heavy plastic bag. They’ll keep for up to a year. Of course, cherries can be made into preserves, pickled, or stewed for longer storage.

How to use cherries

When serving fresh cherries, simply rinse them under cold water and drain. They’re most attractive with the stems intact. To pit cherries for cooking, halve them with a paring knife and pry out the pit with the tip of the knife, or use an inexpensive cherry pitter, which works like a hole punch. A partially unbent paper clip will also do the job.

6 Ways to Serve Cherries

Cherries bring seasonal freshness to savory and sweet dishes. Here are six crowd-pleasing serving suggestions for cherries:Halve and pit cherries (either sweet or sour), sauté briefly in a bit of oil, and serve over sliced cake or as a topping for pancakes or waffles.Use sweet cherries to make fruit salsas for