National Cherry Dessert Day and Sour Cherries

red cherries

Among the more obscure nationally proclaimed holidays, were you aware of the day set aside to celebrate cherry desserts? Well there is one! For most of us, that means the tart fruits of the sour cherry tree, the  Prunus cerasus. The pie cherry has been consumed since prehistoric times. The earliest record of the cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, the country now known as Turkey.

Romans introduced cherries into Britain before the 1st century AD, where they became very popular in the time of Henry VIII.

the sour cherry tree
Botanical details of the sour cherry tree.

In America, Massachusetts colonists planted the first sour cherry, ‘Kentish Red’, and they have since become a much loved fruit here. That variety of cherry tree may even have been the one in the famous legend of George Washington, who knows?

Whatever its history, it is the flavor that assures ongoing popularity, and reigns supreme in every type of dessert. For your own celebration, whether on the official day or not, some well loved recipes are included in this post along with the surprising health benefits and a bit of trivia about the fruits themselves.

May 26

It’s a National Holiday for Tart Pie Cherries in Desserts

Even though cherries seasonally ripen in June, the Presidents Day holiday gives February the honor of being named “National Cherry Month”.

luscious cherries
They are tart, or sour, cherries from the tree Prunus cerasus. Their tartness makes them preeminent for the flavor they give baked goodies like cherry pie, cobblers, and other well loved recipes we remember from our mothers and grandmother’s kitchens.

While sweet cherries, from the Prunus avium tree, are best chosen for fresh eating, nothing beats a pie cherry for any recipe that calls for cherries for cooking.

Pie cherries with their tart and tangy taste create the zing that ignites a plain fruit pie into a memorable sweet summer surprise of flavor. Just the right contrast to the flaky crust of a home baked pie, or the biscuit topping of a cobbler.

Those “down home” desserts are only two of the ways you can use pie cherries to give your table a treat in the early summer month of June, or during other times of the year if you freeze or preserve the the cherries.

Tart Cherries Have Health Benefits

Health benefits of pie cherries include the fact that they have anti-oxidants.

 

  1. * Promotes circulation
  2. * May help you sleep better due to the melatonin content
  3. * Helps relieve migraine headaches
  4. * Helps prevent free radical damage
  5. * Helps you heal faster from muscle related sports injuries

 

Facts about Pie Cherries

Life's story on cherries

 

  • Pie cherries keep their bright red color when cooked, naturally
  • Sour cherries, like the sweet, are picked ripe
  • Look for cherries that are plump and brightly colored, cherries do not ripen off the tree.
  • Store in the refrigerator and rinse just before using
  • Cherries are highly perishable: Their shelf life is about four days in the refrigerator.
  • Cherries can be frozen
  • They may reduce the risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
  • 20 cherries a day might keep the gout away.

Of course there are even more cherry facts:

Cherries are one of the foods least often associated with food allergies according to World’s Healthiest Foods.

Findings on Remedying Gout

They are good for preventing gout. It is said, “six cherries a day” will keep the gout away, and it is certainly a delicious remedy to try. Research indicates that cherries have urate lowering properties. Uric acid crystal buildup is indicated in the onset of gout. (This is not medical advice, but information about the research results on the benefits of tart cherries).

More Reason to Love the Tartness

Tart cherries have fewer calories and more beta-carotene than sweet cherries

dessert cherries

Additional Health Benefits

Tart cherries are loaded with antioxidants that are believed to relieve the pain of arthritis and gout and help fight cancer and heart disease.

At more than 12,000 ORAC units per hundred grams of fruit, cherries have a higher antioxidant capacity than grapes, oranges, plums, raspberries and strawberries combined.

They’re also especially high in the antioxidant melatonin, which may help prevent or reduce brain deterioration associated with aging. And to top it off, they’re high in vitamin A and beta-carotene. [1]

Did you know? Dried cherries are made from the tart cherry variety. They have iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as some melatonin- which is a hormone important biologically.

The Celebrated Pie Cherry

  • Most tart cherries are grown in the state of Michigan in the USA. Traverse City, Michigan is called the “Cherry Capital of the World” and is host to the National Cherry Festival.
  • In Australia, the New South Wales town of Young is called the “Cherry Capital of Australia” and hosts the National Cherry Festival of Australia.
  • Fun Facts About Cherries: Cherry pits have been found in Stone Age caves.
  • Thomas Jefferson, grew cherries on his plantation at Monticello

Harvest Season

Tart cherries ripen two or three weeks after sweet cherries. Look for them in mid to late July.

The Dessert Side of the Story

Desserts are made of this
Cherries are good for you, but all that cream, sugar, and pastry? Maybe not so much… but the taste!
Besides pie, cobbler, or cherry dump cake, how can you fix this fruit as a dessert? Healthier choices to enjoy as desserts.

    Try cherries

  • with yogurt
  • with sherbet or gelato
  • baked into oatmeal

Because of their tartness, most people will want to sweeten them, which makes them ideal for desserts.

classic latticed pie
classic latticed pie

Prepare Your Pie Cherries with Professional Quality Cherry Pitter

During the season when stone fruits are available, you may be buying fresh produce. In order to use them in desserts, it is necessary to remove the pits. If you have ever tried this, you know how much a kitchen gadget makes all the difference.

If you are going to pit lots of cherries this is a professional style of machine to make the job easy. Highly rated and recommended.

Fun for Cherry Dessert Day

Wear a cherry patterned apron, bake a cherry pie or make some quick and easy cherry cobbler to celebrate the day.
May 26

photo by Rusty Clark
Cherry cobbler | photo by Rusty Clark
Cherry Cobbler, Classic Recipe
Print Recipe
Cherry cobbler is like an easy, messy cherry pie, but that yummy topping soaking in the juices is what makes it such a well beloved dessert cousin of the cherry pie. Emeril uses cinnamon, but I suggest experimenting with mace or cardamom - two spices that complement the cherry flavor extremely well.
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Cherry Cobbler, Classic Recipe
Print Recipe
Cherry cobbler is like an easy, messy cherry pie, but that yummy topping soaking in the juices is what makes it such a well beloved dessert cousin of the cherry pie. Emeril uses cinnamon, but I suggest experimenting with mace or cardamom - two spices that complement the cherry flavor extremely well.
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
TOPPING:
FILLING:
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a saucepan combine filling ingredients and cook, stirring until bubbling and thickened. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until it is crumbly.
  4. Mix together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir with a fork just until combined. Drop topping by tablespoonfuls onto filling.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes until browned and bubbly.
Recipe Notes

Emeril's rendition of a classic

Share this Recipe

 

 

Alternative Cherry Pitter Choice
Leifheit 37200 Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container | Cherry Stone Remover Tool

Leifheit 37200 Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container | Cherry Stone Remover Tool

A cherry is a fruit with a hard seed pit which must be removed before using the cherries in baked goods. There are a number of types of gadgets to do the job, which is important to own if you have a large number of cherries to prepare.

 

Cherry Delight Cake

Yield: 8

Cherry Delight Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine- melted
  • 1 egg -beaten
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen pitted tart or "pie" cherries- lightly drained (reserve 1 cup juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts -walnut | pecans | or hazelnuts
    Cherry Sauce (see recipe)
  • 1 cup cherry juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, combine butter or margarine, egg, sour cherries, almond extract, and nuts: add to flour mixture.
  4. Bake, uncovered, in an ungreased 9-inch square pan 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cut into squares.
    Prepare Cherry Sauce.
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cherry juice, cornstarch, sugar, almond extract, and butter or margarine
  2. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Serve the Cherry Delight Cake with Hot Cherry Sauce and whipped cream.

 

February is…

National Cherry Month

A Look at the Harvest

Do You Celebrate The Sweetest Day In The Year?

A Fun Holiday To Show You Care

Wacky holidays abound, but this October Saturday is a chance to show someone your appreciation. Something between a Thanksgiving day for individual and Valentine’s day for special people.

Third Saturday In October is Sweetest Day

For those who don’t have enough special occasions to commemorate, one of the more obscure Holidays is the one that celebrates “the sweetest day of the year”.

It deserves to be better known and observed since it is the day set aside to simply show your appreciation for the unsung heroes of your life. We could use more of that! Those people who are special to you might have another holiday, like “Mother’s Day” or “Valentine’s Day”, but this one is the 3rd Saturday in the month of October to…

honor sweethearts, close friends, relatives or employees with special gift of something sweet.

You can simply tell them how important they are no other reason than that you appreciate them on this day.

What is the story behind this celebration?

Have You Heard Of This Holiday?

Sweetest Day

Always observed on the third Saturday in October.

Something Sugary

Sweet as Sugar

Whose idea was it, anyway?

Primarily celebrated in the Great Lakes region and in the Northeast, not surprising since it was the brainchild of Cleveland, Ohio philanthropist Herbert Birch Kingston. Working for a candy company, he came up with an idea to sweeten the lives of of orphans and other people who were overlooked or forgotten.

Some actresses of the time were encouraged to take up the banner and the idea caught on.

Some skeptics say that a group of candymakers thought the whole thing up. However it may be, It is an opportunity to do something sweet for someone who you believe deserves it.

Ohioans Love To Celebrate This Holiday

Ohio is the top state for Sweetest Day sales, but other states also have a showing, including Michigan and Illinois. Texas, California and Florida.

Due to the association of affection, candy, and flowers, it has also become a romantic holiday to remember ones “Sweet Heart”. Like a second Valentine’s Day… so you get another chance to give someone the message that you love them. It originally was simply a day of appreciation for the persons of your choosing. Think of it as sort of a “random kindness” day.

An Appreciative Message

Super cute idea to use: Get a matchbox, paint it and print your message on top with markers. Fill the inside with a miniature diorama that reminds you of them. Or just their favorite jelly beans!
Super cute idea to use: Get a matchbox, paint it and print your message on top with markers. Fill the inside with a miniature diorama that reminds you of them. Or just their favorite jelly beans!

Students Explain It All for You

Why Celebrate Another Holiday?

Isn’t this one very similar to Valentine’s Day, when romance reins supreme?

Actually the beauty of this holiday might be in the fact that it isn’t about romancing the woman of your dreams. It could be a whole lot more about a man who is especially sweet.

It could be about that extra nice neighbor who does favors for you, and always has a smile and a wave.

We don’t have to make all gift giving about a romantic relationship, and that isn’t what the idea was for this one.

Have An Hour For Learning about the Science of Sweetest Day?

Fresh, Delicious Chocolate

See's Candies 1 lb. Chocolate & Variety
See’s Candies 1 lb. Chocolate & Variety

Have you ever tasted this confection? See’s brand is widely available and tastes wonderful. Freshly made with quality ingredients.

My first taste was during Christmas season at one of their booths in a mall, but you can order them anytime online.

Should I Buy Something?

Ideas for Sweetest Day Gifts

You get to buy something, because you appreciate someone.

You could give the object of your appreciation and gratefulness a box of chocolates, or a special cupcake, or you could make something yourself.

That is the beauty of something sweet- it doesn’t have to come tied with a bow, you can bake, make, or send anything that you believe will make their day “sweeter”.

I do think a card is nice, and it costs very little in cost or time.

Sprinkles, Cupcakes, and Pink, Oh My!

Without The Calories

The trouble with some of these holidays is the way they wreck havoc with the diet, but substituting something you wear for something you eat may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Don’t worry about the calories for these cupcakes, candies, and sweets, they are beautiful little reminders of how sweet you think your Sweetie really is, in clever jewelry designs just right for a gift on this holiday.

CHOOSE JEWELRY

It isn’t hard to celebrate this day without ruining your diet. Let’s forget that the whole idea of this holiday was to get people to eat more candy. Instead, make it something unexpected and memorable with a pretty necklace or a pair of earrings in a fun theme of bakery goodies or their favorite fall sugary delight.

What makes this holiday special?

It’s a day to make others feel special.

Customize a Card

Sweetest Day Cards from Zazzle

Just for Today

Here is one of the creative cards that can be found on Zazzle. Or you could design your own for a really unique card that has high quality paper and printing.

Too late for this year? Consider making one, anyway, you can always send it next year.

What about appropriate quotes for your cards?

Say something sweet inside

Quotations for the day, add them to your custom card.

The best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. ~William Wordsworth

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn

How beautiful a day can be

When kindness touches it!

~George Elliston

Life is mostly froth and bubble,

Two things stand like stone,

Kindness in another’s trouble,

Courage in your own.

~Adam Lindsay Gordon

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~Jean Baptiste Massieu

 

Praise the bridge that carried you over. ~George Colman

 

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. ~Henry Clay

One of my Favs, too

Signature Collection Chocolate Liqueurs – 165g

These are hard to find! This would be my mother’s idea of the sweetest gift ever. She delighted in that little taste of liqueur inside a chocolate.

A variety of liqueur flavors.

Some Gift Ideas

If you decide to single out one person to show your appreciation to, think about their interests or something that would make their job more enjoyable. If they have helped you through their expertise you can get something as simple as an electric pencil sharpener, or something as extravagant as a leather computer bag. Or something in between!

For her:

Truffles to die for.

For him:

A cool computer bag or phone accessories

Or vice-versa

For the Gardener:

Seeds, hand lotion – Especially in “Sweet Pea”

For a Birder:

A special treat for their birds, “bird egg” chocolates

For an Artist:

A small sketchbook, art pin, artistic chocolates

Which candy treat would you give?

Nostalgic Memories Of Oldtime Dimestore Favorites

Hometown Favorites 1980's Nostalgic Candy Gift Box, Retro 80's Candy, 3-Pound
Hometown Favorites 1980’s Nostalgic Candy Gift Box, Retro 80’s Candy, 3-Pound

Do you have memories of old fashioned favorites, the kind of candy that you enjoyed as a child? Share the delight you experienced with someone you appreciate on the third Saturday of October this year.