February Is The Month for Cherries and Presidents
Should the sweet red cherry be voted as president of all stone fruits? For your diet they promise all sorts of health benefits, and no one denies they do it in good taste.
Survey some of their fine qualities and the nutritional facts , then proceed to dessert and make a dish to celebrate.
Bing Cherries, Royal Anne, Sweetheart
These are all names for a type of sweet cherry that is premier for out-of-hand, fresh eating. Like their sour counterparts the tart cherries, sweet cherries are also good for you. There are numerous health claims for them, and most people love their flavor.
In season, they are a juicy delicious treat eaten fresh, but also make wonderful desserts and pies. If you like to bake desserts you might be more familiar with the tart cherry, but Bing types can deliver delicious results, too.
You can grow your own if you plant a cherry tree of the right variety (or two). I planted several Prunus avium ( he proper Latin name for these trees) on my property many years ago. I became interested in the health properties of these red fruits when my Dad had developed gout many years ago.
There have been plenty of new findings on why we should eat fruits and vegetables more, so let’s find out about that!
Health Benefits of Cherries
Both the sweet and tart cherries have similar nutrients and antioxidants, but the tart type have more benefits.
- Lots of Vitamin A: Almost 20X more Vitamin A than strawberries or blueberries.
- These fruits have melatonin which aids sleep.
- Cherries have antioxidants known as anthocyanins (they give the purple-red color). Good for the brain.
- Cherries have anti-inflammatory properties.
- This stone fruit also has anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acid, and perillyl alcohol, which is believed to protect against cancers.
- Reputed to be a heart healthy food
- Cherries help reduce the risk of diabetes. (2)
Black Cherry Juice
Helps prevent gout attacks.
Health Facts on Sweet Red Cherries
The Art of Sweet Cherries
The When, Why, and How to Serve These Fruits
Fresh sweet cherries are available from late May through August. Shiny, firm,fleshy, and with good color are the qualities you look for in Sweet cherries. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week. Don’t wash before storing, wait until ready to serve.
Sweet cherries are at their peak from late June through July. In season they are best eaten fresh, but can be frozen, preserved, or canned for use in other times of the year
How Do You Pit A Cherry?
These are a drupe, like peaches, nectarines, and plums. They bloom early in spring and sometimes suffer from late frosts.
It is necessary to pit the fruits before using in your recipes.
How to pit a cherry
A cherry can be pitted using a simple paring knife, or a stick like a shish-ka-bob grilling stick. Remove the stem. Probe for the seed. Use your utensil and twist the seed out. Throw away the pit.
If you have lots of cherries that is tedious work.
The easy way is to get a cherry pitter- one of the labor saving devices of yore. It works well and saves lots of grief.
OXO Cherry Pitter – is the most highly recommended
If you have a cherry tree or buy large amounts of cherries in season- you know the need for a good cherry pitter. Yes, we can use a paring knife, but it is so awkward compared to the tool designed for the job.
Simple, Fresh Presentation
Serving fresh sweet cherries
Simply wash them, and serve chilled in a bowl. That is the best way. Whipped cream is a nice side, or mixed with pitted sweet cherries, it becomes “Cherry Fool”. Spoon cherries onto vanilla ice cream.
Sweet Cherries Available In Grocery Stores
During the summer months these deep red fruits are sold by the bag or in bins for weighing out your own. Delicious fresh from your fridge.
Traditional Fruit Recipes
“Rustic fruit desserts” – nothing says homemade better than simple fruit recipes of the past. They are interwoven into the history of the American nation. We may not have the same chores as back then, but we truly have the same desire for something good to top off a meal. we want it to be easy and quick to make, and these cobblers, buckles…even “grunts” will fill the bill, and fill your kitchen with delicious desserts.
These are delicious, and easy to bake- time tested recipes.
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 pinches salt
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons brandy (optional)
- 2 cups sweet cherries, pitted
- Heat oven to 400F
- Beat the sugar and eggs together with a whisk until they lighter in color. Whisk in the butter gradually into egg mixture.
- Add the flour and salt all at once and whisk until the batter is well mixed.
- Slowly pour in the milk a little at a time. Add the extract, and brandy and mix well. The batter should be very smooth and shiny.
- Place the cherries in a buttered glass 9 " baking dish.
- Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake approximately 30-40 minutes,, until lightly brown and set.
- Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving in wedges. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and dollop of whipped cream.
The Beauty of Plump Red Cherries
Harvest When Ripe
Both sweet and sour cherries have extremely short shelf lives.
Attractive To Look At, As Well As To Serve
There’s something so quintessentially summer about a big bowl of cherries. ~Rebecca
Sweet Cherry Preserves
- 4 cups washed and pitted cherries washed and pitted
- 1 large lemon (or 2 small) juiced
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 -2 tsp amaretto (optional)
- Pit washed cherries, then chop about 1/2 or 1/3 of them into rough pieces, and leave the others whole. Add all the cherries to a medium pot along with the lemon juice.
- Cook over medium heat, until bubbling, then continue to cook while stirring occasionally for about 20-25 minutes. Make sure you stir especially towards the end of that time so the juice on the bottom does not burn.
- While cooking, use a spoon to smash the whole cherries to release the juice and flatten them
- After the cherries are fully cooked, add the sugar, stir to mix it in and dissolve it, then continue to cook over medium-high heat for another 5-7 minutes. (Again, be sure to stir, so the sugar and cherries don't burn.)
- After cooking, the juice should have started to 'gel' a bit and thicken so that it starts to coat the back of your spoon or ladle. Remove the preserves from heat, and test if they are done. If the preserves are not done, return them to the heat and cook them for a few more minutes, then test them again. When done, let the preserves cool slightly, then transfer it to jars.
- Once they are cooled, they will keep refrigerated for several months.
Canning Sweet Cherries
Plant Your Own Prunus Avium
aka Sweet Cherry Trees
Sweet Cherry trees, Prunus avium, grow best in gravelly to sandy loam soils, clay soils reduce production.
They need full sunlight and pruning to maintain air and sunlight penetration within the tree.
Sweet cherries are usually harvested by hand for fresh eating.
- Stone Fruits: Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Apricots, and Cherries
Fruit Production for the Home Gardener – Penn State Extension