What is a Cherry?
Cherries are a fruit classified under the drupe or stone fruit category, which includes plums, peaches, and apricots. These fruits are small and round with deep red skin and flesh that is firm, soft, and juicy. Cherries can be bitter or sweet, depending on their species.
- They can be eaten fresh or consumed in several other ways, including frozen, canned, dried, juiced, and as wine or brine.
- Cherries are also often used in jams, preserves, and sauces.
There are hundreds of cherry cultivars, the most popular include:
- Early Robin
- Black Tartarian
- Utah Gold
- Emperor Francis
- English Morello
Origin of cherries
There is archeological evidence pointing to humans eating cherries since the Stone Age in Europe and Asia. The first texts mentioning cherries come from Greece, where two authors, Theophrastus and Diphilus of Siphnos, mentioned the fruit in their writings around 300 BC. Cherries were part of the Roman army diet, which is how they became popular throughout the erstwhile Roman Empire. European colonizers took the cherries with them to North America. Today, the cherries are grown in many places around the world and comes in more than 5,000 varieties.
Cherries are chock full of nutritional value:
This fruit has vitamin C, potassium, and manganese in high quantities. They also have vitamins A, B6, and K, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. Furthermore, cherries have decent amounts of fiber, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
In addition, cherries have a high concentration of health-promoting bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamates, and Flavan-3-ols. Regular consumption of cherries may reduce the risk of arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Cherries can also help with sleep, insomnia, cognitive function, and pain recovery.
Though there are thousands of cherry cultivars, only a handful of them is used in commercial production. Cherries require cold weather and do not survive in warm climates. They also require well-drained soil without excessive moisture.
Turkey, the USA, Iran, Chile, and Uzbekistan are the top cherry producing countries in the world. The top cherry consuming countries are Turkey, the USA, Iran, Russia, and China. In recent years, Turkey has maintained the highest growth in cherry production.
Cherries must never be stored at room temperature, as they lose taste and quality quickly. It is best to store cherries in the refrigerator. They can be sealed in an airtight container or wrapped in a plastic bag.
Cherries are versatile and can be used in many dishes. Here are a few popular recipes:
- Fruit Cake
- Cherry Pie Crumb Bars
- Cherry Halwa
- Cherry Flop
- Albaloo Polo
- Cherry Arugula Quinoa Salad
- Petit Orange and Tart Cherry Baklava
The FDA describes all fresh fruits, including sweet cherries, as raw agricultural commodities and strictly regulates all aspects of their growing, harvesting, packing, and storage. Sour cherries, however, are not covered under this section. The FDA also regulates canned cherries, which are defined as food prepared from fresh or previously canned cherries ingredients.
“Cherry.” Frutas-Hortalizas.come, Interempresas Media, S.L., www.frutas-hortalizas.com/Fruits/About-Cherry.html.
“Cherries.” Agmrc.org, Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/fruits/cherries.
Verma, M. K.. (2014). Cherry production Technology, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282365690_Cherry_production_Technology
Kelley, Darshan S et al. “A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries.” Nutrients vol. 10,3 368. 17 Mar. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10030368