Cherries

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 22. Apr. 2020
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Cherries are among the greatest delicacies of the summer. And the best thing is: cherries not only taste great—they are also super healthy.

cherries

Cherries...

 

  • ...can help keep you looking young and beautiful. When it comes to anti-aging, cherries are a perfect partner. Their high content of antioxidants effectively protects against free radicals and thus our skin from the aging processes. The red fruit has plenty of potassium, which regulates the fluid pressure in the tissue and makes flaccid contours a thing of the past.
  • ...reduces water retention. With 230 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams, cherries are definitely among the foods that effectively help the body eliminate fluid accumulation.
  • ...may help prevent rheumatism. The anthocyanins in cherries have a general anti-inflammatory effect and, according to studies, can help prevent rheumatism and arthritis.
  • ...are good for pregnant women. Just 200 grams of sweet cherries with 100 micrograms of folic acid provide one third of the recommended daily intake.This is particularly interesting for expectant mothers, though it's recommended to get 500 micrograms of folic acid per day in order to protect an unborn child.
  • ...may help protect your cells. Cherries are full of so-called anthocyanins. These natural dyes from the group of polyphenols have been proven to prevent cell damage by free radicals.
  • ...are loaded with nutrients. In terms of vitamin content, cherries are not among the superstars. Still, they offer 15 milligrams of vitamin C, 6 micrograms of vitamin A and some B vitamins.
  • ...could be contaminated. No matter if they’re imported or locally harvested, unfortunately consumer protectionists often find pesticide residues on cherries. Very thorough washing with warm water is therefore a must for cherries from conventional cultivation.

What You Should Know About Cherries

With cherries, even those who do not appreciate sweet fruit can appreciate their sour variant. Sweet cherries are the first to hang on the trees in June. The first to be harvested are the so-called heart cherries, which are particularly soft and juicy. Next, the firmly fleshed cherries, which ripen in the middle of summer, are ready to be picked.

There are not only differences between sweet cherries in the consistency of the flesh, but also in the color. Most are dark red to almost black, but there are also light red and even yellow or yellow-red cherries. 

When the last of the sweet cherries have been harvested, it’s time for sour cherries to have their moment. Sour cherries contain considerably more fruit acid than sweet cherries, so they taste correspondingly sour to very sour, depending on the variety. Unlike their sweet sisters, sour cherries also tolerate low temperatures well and therefore grow in areas with a cool climate. Sour cherries include the famous morello cherries, and the little known amarelle.

Origins

Botanically, sweet and sour cherries belong to different species but are closely related. Both varieties belong to the stone fruit and rose family. 

Season

The best time for cherries in the US is July.

Flavor

As the term suggests, ripe sweet cherries taste pleasantly sweet and sour cherries taste fruity yet sour.

Varieties

The mild sweet cherry is usually enjoyed on its own, while the tart sour cherry is perfect for cooking, baking and preserving.

Find all our cherry recipes here.

How Healthy Are Cherries?

Whether sweet or sour, cherries are a low-calorie treat. Cherries are also extremely healthy because although they contain a modest amount of minerals and vitamins, 100 grams contains 12 to 15 milligrams of vitamin C.

For athletes: The antioxidant effect of cherries slows down inflammatory processes involved in muscle soreness, thus promoting regeneration.

The existing vitamin B folate plays an essential role in blood formation. Sufficient blood cells supply the body with oxygen and thus effectively prevent premature fatigue.

Above all, however, cherries are full to bursting with so-called anthocyanins. These natural colorants belong to the group of polyphenols and provide a whole range of health benefits. Anthocyanins have a proven protective effect on body cells, helping to fight against inflammation, premature aging and potentially even cancer. The plant dyes also combat elevated uric acid levels and can thus effectively reduce gout and arthritis symptoms.

The coloring of anthocyanins from cherries slows down the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood and supports the formation of blood sugar-lowering hormones. This reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Research also suggests that cherries can alleviate rheumatic complaints thanks to their high anthocyanin content. However, all of these benefits are mainly offered by sour cherries, which have a particularly high proportion of natural coloring agents.

Cherry Nutritional Info (100 g) Sweet Sour
Calories 65 53
Protein 1 g 1 g
Fat 0.2 g 0.5 g
Carybohydrates 14 g 10 g
Fiber 1.5 g 1 g


Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

It is best to buy cherries when they’re in season, otherwise they may have a disappointingly watery taste. One of the trademarks of ripe, delicious cherries is their plump shape, which also says something about their freshness. The color, on the other hand, is not a clear indication of quality. Although you can assume that very dark cherries have a particularly sweet and aromatic taste, other light-colored varieties can also have the same appeal, depending on the variety.

Storage

If kept in the freezer, the season of this summer fruit can be extended by up to 10 months. 

Preparation

Preparing cherries is very easy but can take time if you want to stone them. There are two ways to do this. After washing and draining the cherries, you can cut them in half with a sharp, pointed knife and remove the stones. Or you can use a special cherry pitter, which removes a lot of the work. The second method is particularly useful if you’re processing large quantities of cherries.

What To Make With Cherries

The type of cherry you choose should depend not only on your personal taste, but more importantly the reason you’re using them. Sweet cherries are best eaten raw and are the perfect choice for a fruit salad, ice cream and jelly.

On the other hand, sour cherries are better for cakes, tarts and other summer pastries, as well as jams, because they taste more aromatic and can become sweet with the addition of honey or other sweeteners.

But sour cherries can do even more giving dishes with meat, chutneys and other hearty delicacies a pleasantly fruity, and at the same time sour, note.

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