Bright, fresh and delicious, cherries offer great nutrition and are the perfect fruit for eating and cooking. This vibrant fruit belongs to the same family as plums, peaches and apricots, and have a stone-like seed in the center surrounded by edible flesh. They may have a bright red or purple color with a very thin and shiny peel. There are two common types of cherries: sweet cherries and tart or sour cherries. The tart varieties are more commonly used in pies and preserves, while the sweet types are more commonly eaten fresh.
In the store, choose cherries that have bright, shiny skin with a green stalk firmly attached to the top of the fruit. To preserve the color and flavor best, store your bright beauties in the refrigerator.
Both sweet AND tart, cherries are rich in nutrients so whatever your preference, you can be sure you’re getting all the nutritious benefits of cherries.
The pigments in cherries are polyphenolic flavonoid compounds that are powerful antioxidants, protecting your body from oxidative and inflammatory damage.
Cherries contain melatonin, an antioxidant that can produce a soothing effect on brain neurons, which may help relieve nervous system irritability.
Mild source of zinc, moderate sources of iron, potassium and manganese, and a good source of copper.
When ready to eat or prepare, simply rinse cherries in water and pat dry to remove any excess moisture. Then remove the stem and try not to swallow the pits, or remove the pits before snacking.
Some ideas for sweet cherries: Eat raw, with or without sweetener; add to your favorite hot or cold cereal, yogurt, fruit salad, jello or sauce; add to a fruit cocktail; use in desserts, breads, cookies, over ice cream or in cakes.
Tart cherries are mainly used in the preparation of sauce, pie fillings, jams, muffins and cheese cakes. The juice of tart cherries is sometimes consumed for its benefits, especially among the athletic population.
For more ideas on how to enjoy cherries in drinks, desserts, main dishes and more, click HERE!
– Morgan McManimon-Myers, RDN