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Cherry: Fruit of the Month

Cherries are related to plums and more distantly to peaches and nectarines. They have been enjoyed since the Stone Age -- pits were found in several Stone Age caves in Europe. The Romans carried cherries throughout Europe and England along the routes of conquest.

Cherries are grown in several regions of this country, but seventy percent of the cherries produced in the United States come from four states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah).

Varieties

There are two main types of cherries: sweet and sour. Sour cherries are lower in calories and higher in vitamin C and beta-carotene than sweet cherries.

Sour Cherries

  • Montmorency: This variety is the best known sour cherry. It is mostly canned or frozen for use as pie filling or sauce. They are grown mostly in the eastern and Midwestern states.

Sweet Cherries

  • Bing: This variety is the best known sweet cherry. It is large, round, extra-sweet and has a purple-red flesh and a deep red skin that is close to black when fully ripe. The Bing is available from the end of May until early August.
  • Lambert: This variety is the second most popular sweet cherry. It is smaller than the Bing and is more heart shaped. It has a dark-red skin and a rich flavor. Lamberts are available a bit longer than the Bing, usually until the end of August.
  • Rainer: This variety is sweet with a yellow or pinkish skin. It is milder and sweeter than the Bing. However, this variety is grown in limited quantities.
  • Royal Ann: This variety has a blush-yellow skin and is often canned or made into maraschino cherries.

 

Cherries
Serving Size (73g)
Amounts Per Serving% Daily Value
Calories 50
Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 1g1%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Total Carbohydrate 12g4%
  Dietary Fiber 2g8%
  Sugars 10g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A4%
Vitamin C8%
Calcium2%
Iron2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Choosing the Best Cherry

Buy cherries that have been kept cool and moist, as flavor and texture both suffer at warm temperatures. Cherries have a limited growing season and any fresh cherries grown in the United States sold after August probably came from cold storage. Small quantities of sweet cherries are imported from New Zealand during the winter months, but these may be difficult to find.

At the market, pick a handful of cherries at a time and only select the best fruit. This may be time-consuming, but the reward will be better cherries. Good cherries should be large (one inch or more in diameter), glossy, plump, hard and dark-colored for their variety. Buy cherries with stems on - they should be fresh and green. Reject undersized cherries or those that are soft or flabby. Avoid fruit that is bruised or has cuts on the dark surface.

If you find many damaged fruits at the market, consider buying cherries somewhere else, as a number of spoiled cherries will start the others to decay.

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