Updated: Jul 29, 2020
In the 1600s, settlers brought cherry trees to America; by the late 1800s, cherry orchards flourished in northern Michigan and the Pacific Northwest. Today, Michigan produces most of our tart cherries, and northwestern states produce 60 percent of our sweet cherries.
There is a short peak season for cherries, May–July, so the season comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Cherries are members of the same fruit family as peaches, plums, apricots and almonds.
The most commonly grown sweet cherries in the USA are Bing. The most common tart cherry in this country is the Montmorency. Sweet cherries are generally consumed fresh, although 20–25% of them are processed: brined, canned, frozen, dried or juiced. In contrast, 97% of tart cherries are processed, primarily for cooking and baking.
Nutrient Profile: Cherries are a rich source of polyphenols and vitamin C. They contain fiber, carotenoids and potassium. They are also a good source of tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin.
Anti-inflammatory: due to the phytonutrients
Reduces the risk of gout
Improves sleep: due to melatonin
Reduces oxidative stress: due to the powerful antioxidants, anthocyanins and cyanidin.
Reduces exercise-induced muscle soreness
Selection and Storage: Darker cherries are generally fresher than lighter ones. Skin quality also usually indicates freshness. Look for cherries with firm and glossy skin, free of blemishes. They should feel firm to the touch. Store cherries in a dark, cool place. A lot of sunlight will shrink and wrinkle the cherries and reduce their flavor. Cherries will stay best in a refrigerator in a resealable plastic bag or glass container. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days—even up to two weeks. Keep refrigerated cherries in a container; otherwise, they will pick up flavors from other items in the refrigerator.
Pesticides: According to the Environmental Working Group's 2020 report Shopper's Guide to Pesticides, conventionally grown cherries are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues are most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wishing to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid eating cherries, unless they have been grown organically.
Recipe Suggestion: This is a super yummy cacao acai bowl with fresh cherries from Pamela Salzman.