Cherries are a sweet stone fruit that are only in season for a short time in the summer months. Available in many shades of purple and red, cherries are high in fiber, Vitamin C and potassium. They also have anti-inflammatory polyphenols and carotenoids – agents that may ward off diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. This small but mighty fruit packs quite a punch when it comes to health benefits and is more versatile that you may think! Read on to see how you can make them last all year long and incorporate them in every meal:
- Studies suggest the consumption of sweet or tart cherries can promote health by preventing or decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation
- Cherries are one of nature’s natural sources of melatonin. One study found that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice increased sleep time and improved sleep efficiency.
- Montmorency tart cherry juice has also been found to improve muscle recovery after exercise and decrease systolic blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol.
Selecting and storing:
- Cherry season is May – August! Check availability at your neighborhood farmer’s market or grocery store for local pickings.
- When looking for ripe cherries, choose ones that have the darkest, most vibrant color with the greenest stems and that are firm to touch. Plumper and larger cherries tend to be more sweet!
- Go for sweet cherries like Bing, Gold and Rainier when eating them raw, canned, frozen or dried. Tart cherry varieties like Balton and Montmorency are better for baking and cooking.
- Store cherries in the refrigerator. They will last here for 5 – 7 days. Don’t rinse cherries before storing– the moisture actually reduces shelf life!
- Be sure to rinse cherries under cold water, and remove pits and stems right before eating or cooking.
- Make this summer favorite last longer by freezing, drying or canning.
Preparation and recipe ideas:
- Remove pits and stems and eat them raw as a refreshing snack or add to salads and drinks for tangy flair.
- Cook down raw cherries to make yummy homemade jam, pie filling or dessert toppings.
- Make a cherry reduction to accompany grilled steaks, pork or chicken for a sweet and savory main dish.
- Add whole fresh or frozen cherries to desserts, yogurt, or smoothies to add sweetness with a tart punch.