Sweet cherry (the Bing variety is the best known) is eaten fresh, especially in desserts, salads or sauces. The tangy cherry (especially offered canned, frozen or dried) is used more for the preparation of pies, jams and juice. Five times richer in antioxidants than sweet cherry, it would help prevent cancer and several other diseases.
Characteristics of the cherry:
- Rich in carbohydrates;
- Source of antioxidants;
- Source of vitamin A and C;
- Source of copper;
- Source of fiber.
What is cherry?
Cherry identity card
- Type: Fruit;
- Family: Rosaceae;
- Origin: Asia Minor;
- Season: May to July;
- Red color ;
- Flavor: Sweet.
Characteristics of the cherry
The cherry is the fruit of the cherry tree. During the harvest, it is a small fleshy fruit of red color which contains a core in its center.
Word from the nutritionist
Cherry is one of the sweetest fruits, so don’t overdo it. One serving corresponds to approximately 100g of cherries.
For 100g of cherry:
|Vitamin C||8.5 mg|
|Vitamin A||6.33 µg|
Benefits of cherry: why eat it?
- The anthocyanins of the sour cherry demonstrate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities in vitro. They constitute the main phenolic compounds of this fruit. Like many of these compounds, present in plants, they have the capacity to neutralize the free radicals of the body and thus prevent the appearance of several diseases: cancers, cardiovascular diseases and various chronic diseases. It is mainly from them that the pain-relieving and muscular recovery effects of the cherry come. Researchers have also found that in the presence of inflammation, their administration to rats reduced their sensitivity to pain, in addition to reducing edema. In addition, anthocyanins protect nerve cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
- High amounts of melatonin, a compound known for its antioxidant potential, have been found in two varieties of tart cherries (Montmorency and Balaton). Consumption of plants containing sufficient melatonin could thus provide protection against damage caused by free radicals. Since melatonin is a sleep regulator, it could also help fight insomnia.
- The sour cherry is a source of vitamin A.
- Sweet cherry and tangy cherry are sources of vitamin C.
- Sweet cherry and tangy cherry are sources of copper.
- Sweet cherry is a source of iron for humans.
- Sweet and sour cherries are sources of manganese.
Choosing the right cherry
Fresh cherries should be plump and their skin smooth and shiny. Avoid hard, dark-skinned fruits. The skin color can vary from light red to dark red, although there are also yellow-skinned ones. Preferably choose fruits that still have their tails.
The different varieties
There are over 600 varieties of cherries around the world. The most commonly found on our stalls are Burlat and Bigarreau.
In the refrigerator: No more than a week in the vegetable drawer, making sure to keep them away from strong-smelling foods. They are taken out 30 minutes before serving and washed only at the last moment to prevent them from deteriorating.
In the freezer: Pitted or not, they must be dried well after having washed them and they are spread on a plate in the freezer. They are then hermetically sealed in a freezer bag.
Preparation of the cherry
How to cook it? How to match it?
- Add the fresh fruit to the morning cereal, or serve it as a snack with fromage blanc, pineapple chunks and nuts.
- The juice, the concentrate, the fresh or canned fruit make excellent shakes. Blend with yogurt, tofu or soy milk. You can vary by adding other fruits – a banana for example -, orange juice and ice.
- Serve them on a bed of greens with slices of kiwi, apple and pear. Garnish with pistachios or roasted almonds.
- Desserts. Pies, cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles, soufflés, ice creams, sorbets, chocolate fondue: there is no shortage of sweet preparation ideas to prepare the cherry. The simplest of all is certainly the clafoutis, which consists in pouring a dough made of flour, eggs, milk and sugar on a background of cherries, and putting in the oven.
- Cherries blend harmoniously with thyme in savory dishes. They can be added to the cooking juices of a roast.
- Prepare a sauce to accompany the fish by mixing pieces of mango and cherry, balsamic vinegar, chopped basil, mint or cilantro leaves.
- The cold cherry soup is a tradition of the countries of Northern Europe and England. There are many variations, the simplest being made up of pitted sour cherries and cooked in water with lemon zest, cinnamon and sugar (you can omit the sugar or replace it with honey). Cook for ten minutes, thicken with a little flour, add sour cream and cherry juice, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Leave to cool, put in the refrigerator and serve very cold one evening of heat wave.
- They are added to muesli preparations.
- In a chicken salad with apple pieces, celery and sliced green onions, toasted walnut kernels. Serve with mayonnaise.
- With avocado, cooked shrimp, green onions and greens.
- They are served as a salad with baby spinach, finely grated carrots, cucumber and unsalted roasted peanuts. Drizzle with rice vinegar, lemon and orange zest, ginger, orange juice, garlic and tamari.
- They can be incorporated into the ingredients for a vinaigrette: they are blended with a shallot, garlic, vinegar, orange juice and honey until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. Gradually add walnut oil and make a sauce.
- Mix them with cooked rice, onions, celery, nuts, thyme and marjoram returned in oil and cooked for ten minutes.
- They are added to carrots cooked in water and drained, maple syrup, butter, ginger and nutmeg. It is reheated and served as a starter or as an accompaniment to roasted meat.
- Snack: Mix peanuts and dried cherries with curry powder, cumin, garlic and chilli, and Worcestershire sauce. Fry in oil until the peanuts are golden. Put to cool on parchment paper.
- Cheese starter: Cut a camembert or a brie in the thickness direction. Prepare a stuffing with dried cherries, pecans, butter and thyme. Spread the preparation on one of the halves of the cheese, cover with the other half and place in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Serve with rusks.
- Another starter: Mix dried cherries, sour cream, Dijon mustard, chopped garlic and finely chopped green onion. Put in the fridge for 1 hour and serve with croutons or raw vegetables.
- Salsa: Dried cherries, frozen cherries, jalapeño pepper, coriander leaves, garlic, red onion. If necessary, thicken with cornstarch.
- Couscous: Heat broth with dried cherries, a little butter, salt and pepper until boiling. Add wheat semolina, remove from heat, let rise for 5 or 10 minutes and serve.
- Stuffing: We mix dried cherries, celery, onion, garlic, stale bread cubes, broth, egg, thyme, parsley, and stuff a poultry or veal cutlet with this preparation
Cherry is one of the foods that can cause oral allergy syndrome. The consumption of this fruit can trigger, in people allergic to birch pollen or grasses, mild symptoms such as itching and sneezing, but also asthma, generalized hives or anaphylactic shock. Since the allergenic proteins involved are usually destroyed during cooking, hypersensitive people can eat the cherries when they are cooked.
History of the cherry
The term “cherry” appeared in the language in 1190. It comes from the Latin cerasus (cherry tree) which itself borrowed from the Greek kerasos. Note that the word “cherry” is sometimes used to designate fruits that do not belong to the genus Prunus: cherry from Santo Domingo or the West Indies (acerole), Chinese cherry (lychee), Cayenne cherry or square (Eugenia) , ground cherry (alkenkenge).
Cherries played a role in human nutrition long before the advent of agriculture. It seems that our Neolithic ancestors made cherry wine before using the grape.
The sour cherry and bird cherry, the two main cultivated species, come from Asia Minor, more specifically from the regions around the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
Two main species
Of the very numerous cherry tree species, only two are cultivated on a large scale: Prunus avium, which gives sweet-tasting fruits which are eaten mainly in the fresh state, and Prunus cerasus, whose acidulous fruits are mainly used preparing jams, jellies, pies, etc.
Who, Greeks or Romans, would have brought the cherry tree to Europe? This was the subject, at the beginning of our era, of a hot debate which still continues in certain circles. Indeed, according to the Romans, it would be the army of General Lucullus who, in the first century BC, brought back cherry trees from Asia Minor, after a famous victory. As the fight had taken place in the city of Cerasus, the plant was named after the courage of the Roman troops. But, the Greeks did not understand it thus, quoting as proof a text of a Greek author dating from 300 years before Lucullus and in which appears a detailed description of the cherry.
Anyway, it was certainly the Romans who spread the cherry tree throughout the Empire, its fruit being part of the diet typical of legionaries. In the Middle Ages, it was very popular in France, England and Germany. From the beginnings of colonization, it will be introduced in North America. Today, it is grown in many countries in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as in Turkey, Iran, Japan, Argentina, Chile, Australia, the United States. and in Canada.
Because of its flavor, the sour cherry was mainly used for making pies and jams to which sugar is added. However, it was recently discovered that it was particularly rich in antioxidants, which led to consumer demand for the juice and juice concentrate. They are now available in supermarkets, specialty stores and health food stores. Note that the sweet cherry is 5 times less rich in antioxidants.
In Quebec, the cultivation of sweet cherry trees is risky, except perhaps in the extreme south of Quebec. However, that of the sour cherry tree is not a problem. The University of Saskatchewan has selected varieties that can survive in zones 2b or 3, as well as hardy cultivars grown from crosses between plum and cherry trees (their fruit is called, in English, chums (from: cherry and plum).
Less imposing than the sweet cherry, the sour cherry can accommodate relatively small spaces, including a city courtyard, provided it benefits from several hours of sunshine a day. In addition, unlike its cousin, it is self-fertile, so that it is not necessary to plant more than one specimen to obtain fruit.
It prefers sandy soils, deep, slightly sloping and oriented to the north or east. But it can accommodate other types of soil provided they drip well, because it does not tolerate having your feet in the water. It must be protected from westerly and northerly winds with windbreaks. The spacing varies according to the cultivars, but it is generally recommended to plant the shrubs at 6 m or 8 m from each other. A green clover-based fertilizer is sown between the rows, keeping bare a circle about 1 m in diameter around the trunk, which will be mulched to prevent weed growth.
In case of drought, irrigate, especially during the first years, while the roots are still little developed. Protect the crop against birds with nets designed for this purpose.
We should be able to harvest the first fruits 3 years after planting. We harvest them one by one or shake the young trees to make them fall. They are allowed to mature as long as possible on the tree, they will only be sweeter.
Ecology and environment
In Europe, the cultivation of organic cherries remains very problematic, given the humid temperatures prevailing in the producing regions. Moniliosis, in particular, a fungal disease in humid climates, is very difficult to prevent or eradicate.
Various approaches are proposed to fight against this disease: large pruning and sterilization of tools, elimination of residues at the foot of trees (dead leaves, rotten fruit and pruning branches), protection by forest cover or by covering trees with transparent plastic for a few weeks before harvesting, apply compost manure or clay-based powders to the trunk, branches and leaves, etc. However, the losses attributable to the disease remain relatively high for the time being, except for the sour cherry tree which seems to be less susceptible.