Whether you prefer them sweet or sour, cherries are a flavorful way to get in a serving or two of your daily fruit and vegetable requirement. Although cherries aren’t widely grown here in Arizona, some of the sweet varieties do well with our mild weathers and dry climate. This month is National Cherry Month, so let’s celebrate the great flavor and many uses of this wonderful fruit. Here are fun facts, a bit of history, and some great recipes featuring cherries.
- It takes about 250 cherries to make a cherry pie.
- Cherries are cousins to some other Arizona fruits like nectarines, apricots, and plums.
- If you cataloged all the different types of cherries from all over the world, you would find more than 1,000 varieties.
- The two most popular kinds of sweet cherries, Bings and Lamberts, are grown in North America.
- Cherries are low in calories and are a good source of soluble fiber. They are also a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, beta carotene, and potassium.
- In traditional medicine, healers used cherries for a variety of medicinal purposes including the treatment of gout. Some alternative medical practitioners continue to use cherries today because of they contain cyanidin which can reduce inflammation and for pain relief.
- Each year more than 300 million pounds of cherries are harvested in the U.S.
- Cherry trees can grow more than 30 feet tall.
- Although there are more than 1,000 varieties of cherry, the ones most commonly grown commercially are the Bing, Rainier, Royal Ann, Montmorency, Morello, and Early Richmond.
- Cherry trees are known for more than just producing delicious fruit; they are also known for the beautiful blossoms that fill their branches in late spring.
- Cherries are enjoyed around the world and are used in a variety of ways including as filling for pies, the final touch on an ice cream sundae, to flavor tea, to add color and flavor to salad, and to make liqueur and brandy.
The History of Cherries
- Cherries, like many of their cousins in the stone fruit family, have been around since ancient times and cherry pits have been found amongst other artifacts in caves from the Stone Age.
- They are mentioned as far back as 300 BC by one of Aristotle’s protégés, Theophrastus, in his work the “History of Plants”.
- Wild cherries are native to Europe, western Asia, and some areas of North Africa.
- Cherries were often used for their healing properties and their sweet flavor made them a popular treat among rich merchants and royalty.
- George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are both credited with growing cherry trees.
Great Ways to Use Cherries
- Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
- Chocolate Cherry and Almond Bread Pudding
- Cherry Blueberry Pie
- California Cherry and Walnut Salad
- Cherries Jubilee
- Apple and Cherry Pie with Oatmeal Crumble Topping
- Cherry Cheesecake with Ganache