Cherry Recipes & Info
Discover | Cherries are a drupe—a stone fruit with an outer fleshy part that surrounds a pit—that are related to plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots. These stone fruits flourish in Michigan’s lake coast climate where winter temperatures are not too severe and winds cool the orchards in the summer. Michigan has almost 4 million cherry trees that can produce about 7,000 cherries per tree. With each cherry pie requiring about 250 cherries, one tree could supply 28 pies. Cherries’ rich tradition is celebrated every July in Michigan at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, which bills itself as the Cherry Capital of the World. The festival showcases all things cherry.
Taste | Cherries are available in two varieties: sweet and sour. Sweet cherries are best eaten fresh. Stain your fingers with red sweet cherries, which have a vibrant flavor and deep mahogany color, or try golden cherries with a delicate peach-like flavor and blush tone. The sour, or tart, cherry is popular in cooking preserves and pies and is smaller than the sweet with thin, red skin. All cherries can be used in recipes for salads, slaws, muffins, cookies, crumbles and sauces. Cherries go well in trail mix, hot and cold cereal, rice and pasta dishes or parfaits in place of other more traditional berries. Although dried cherries, cherry juice and frozen cherries are available year round, cherries are at their best in Michigan direct from the tree in July and August.
Fortify | Cherries contain powerful antioxidants that help our bodies fight cancer and heart disease. One antioxidant that causes its deep red color, anthocyanin, has been proven to reduce cholesterol and even belly fat. All varieties of cherries have an impressive amount of potassium, beta carotene and fiber. Tart cherries are lower in calories and slightly more nutritious with more vitamins A and C. The latest research shows that cherries contain melatonin, which helps regulate the body’s natural sleep pattern. Daily consumption of fresh cherries, dried cherries or cherry juice makes a great addition to a heart-healthy diet.
Preserve | Pick firm, plump and glossy cherries with their green stems attached. Fresh cherries are highly perishable and need to be stored in the refrigerator unwashed and in a shallow bowl with a loose covering. They can be kept in a cool environment for up to one week. Cherries that are old or haven’t been stored correctly are soft, seeping or shriveled with brown spots and dark stems. Freeze cherries for future use by removing pits and spreading evenly on a tray. Once frozen, store in a freezer-safe zip-top bag.